Friday Five

A&E overcrowding, obesity rise in children and a new long-acting HIV injection – this weeks Friday Five

A&E over crowding responsible for thousands of deaths

Emergency doctors have claimed that thousands of patients a year are dying because of overcrowding in A&E units in Britain, and more fatalities will follow this winter.

At least 6,097 deaths occurred across four home nations in 2020-21 after overcrowding hampered treatment and an estimated 4,519 people in England died in 2020-21 as a direct result of people receiving less than ideal care while delayed in A&E waiting to start treatment in the hospital. The RCEM’s findings come days after the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) disclosed that patients in England are dying in the back of ambulances, in hospital and also in their homes because there are too few ambulances to answer 999 calls.

Dr Adrian Boyle, a vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said “To say this figure is shocking is an understatement. Quite simply, crowding kills…There’s a lot of human misery behind these figures. It’s uncomfortable and unbearable that people are being put through this. It’s impossible not to feel upset and angry about this,”.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Rise in obese children linked to pandemic

Data from NHS digital has suggested that there has been a substantial rise in the number of obese children in England during the pandemic. Experts have said that poverty, lockdowns and a rise in mental health problems will all have played a role. The jump that has been seen is in marked contrast to previous years, which had shown only very gradual increases.

In 2019-20, 10% of children were obese at the start of primary school, but in 2020-21 the figure was more than 14%. In the last year of primary school, it rose from 21% to over 25%. Rates were twice as high in the poorest areas.

Dr Max Davie, of Paediatrics and Child Health, has said: “While lockdown may have been a key factor, we mustn’t assume that this year’s results are an aberration since there may be other factors, including mental health difficulties, which will take time to address… Every year we see the gap between the most and least deprived children widen. Any attempts to address this problem therefore need to be focused on these groups, and the causes for their increased vulnerability.”

Read the full story in BBC News.

New long-acting HIV treatment to be offered to thousands

The NHS has been given the green light to offer the first “long-acting injectable” to 13,000 people living with the HIV virus to help keep it at bay.

This injection is an alternative solution to adults living with HIV who currently have to take daily antiretroviral drugs to keep the virus at very low levels. These drugs keep the viral load so low that it cannot be detected or transmitted between people. The new injectable treatment in England means they no longer need daily treatment but will have two injections every two months. This means they can reduce the days they receive treatment from 365 to six per year.

Commenting on the news, Debbie Laycock, head of policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It’s incredible news for people living with HIV in England and Wales that they will be able to access the first long-acting injectable treatment on the NHS as an additional treatment option. We have incredibly effective treatment which means HIV is now a manageable virus, however, it is lifelong so it is important that taking treatment is as easy as possible.”

Read the full story in Sky News.

 

Children told to delay jab for 12 weeks after infection

Healthy children aged 12 to 17 are being advised to wait 12 weeks after a coronavirus infection before having a Covid jab in the UK. Previously the advice was to leave a four-week gap. The UK Health Security Agency said the change was a precaution against the small risk of heart inflammation.

Evidence is emerging that this length of gap may reduce the already low risk of heart inflammation after a vaccine in children whose risk from the virus is also very low. UKHSA stressed the risk of the heart problem was extremely low – latest data suggests nine cases of myocarditis can be expected to be seen in children for every one million doses given.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at UKHSA, said: “Based on a highly precautionary approach, we are advising a longer interval between COVID infection and vaccination for those aged under 18… Young people and parents should be reassured that myocarditis is extremely rare, at whatever point they take up the vaccine, and this change has been made based on the utmost precaution.”

Read the full story in Sky News.


Quote of the week

The Independent has revealed that the UK threw away more than 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the life-saving jabs were allowed to pass their expiry date. A health policy manager at Oxfam said:

“Our estimates suggest at least 100 million vaccine doses could go unused and expire in G7 countries by the end of this year. This number could increase even further to around 800 million wasted doses by mid-2022. There’s a clear case that rich countries have to get their act together here… Their short-sighted vaccine nationalism and their free pass to big pharmaceutical giants to profit as much as they like from these publicly funded vaccines is prolonging the pandemic and costing lives.”

Read the full story in The Independent.