Friday Five

CQC State of Care report, NHS under ‘sustainable pressure’, over-50s to come forward for booster jabs, pig kidney tested in human and gene silencing medicine – this week’s Friday Five

Health minister claims NHS is under ‘sustainable pressure’

Edward Argar, a health minister has claimed the NHS is under “sustainable pressure” despite the concern being raised by a major doctors’ union urging the government to introduce stricter measures to reduce the spread of Covid.

The British Medical Association (BMA) have insisted that the “time is now” for further measures and accused ministers of being “wilfully negligent” for ignoring NHS leaders’ pleas for the implementation of “plan B”. This week the NHS Confederation have also called for a “plan B plus” and have stressed that the NHS is “stumbling into a crisis” and is “right on the edge”.

Speaking to Sky News, Argar said “The NHS while under huge pressure at the moment, and I pay tribute to all those working in it, is that it’s sustainable pressure at the moment.”. Argar also denied rumours of a “plan C” set of restrictions and said ““The specifics of that and what was mooted in it as I understand it, as I only glanced at it I’m afraid on my way in this morning, about limiting household mixing, things like that … is that it isn’t something that is being actively considered.”

Read the full story in The Independent.

Over-50s can now book a Covid booster without invitation

The Health Secretary has confirmed that over-50s can now book a Covid booster – even if they have not received an NHS invite – within a week of becoming eligible for the third jab.

The change follows complaints that many old and vulnerable people were being turned away from clinics because they had not been sent an official invitation, even though it had been six months since their second dose.

At a press conference from Downing Street, Sajid Javid said “We got the jabs, we just need the arms to put them in,” he said. “If you’re over 50 or in another priority group and had your second jab over six months ago you’re eligible for a booster and the NHS will send you an invite…If you haven’t been invited within a week of reaching that six-month milestone then please, get on to the National Booking Service and book online or phone 119.”

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

Pig kidney transplant tested in human

US surgeons, at the New York University Langone Health medical centre, have tested a pig kidney transplant in a brain-dead person. In an operation that lasted two hours, researchers connected the pig kidney to blood vessels to find out whether the organ would function correctly in people. To reduce the likelihood of transplant rejection, the donor pig had been genetically modified.

The hope is that eventually, pig kidney transplants could help combat the donor organ shortage.

“We observed a kidney that basically functioned like a human kidney transplant, that appeared to be compatible in as much as it did all the things that a normal human kidney would do.” commented the lead investigator, Dr Robert Montgomery. “. It functioned normally, and did not appear to be undergoing rejection.”

Read the full story in BBC News.

 

Transformative gene silencing medicine to become available on NHS

A gene silencing treatment for patients with acute intermittent porphyria is to become available on the NHS.

Intermittent porphyria is a rare illness, with approximately 17 diagnoses in the UK each year. Severe symptoms of the disease can be detrimental to the quality of life of these patients. Givosiran, the gene silencing therapy, has been found to reduce severe attacks by 74%.

Prof David Rees, the director of the King’s College Hospital National Acute Porphyria Service, said “To find a drug that really does transform people’s lives is extraordinary.” He continued, “[But] if we can control genes and switch them on and off when we want to, then almost anything is possible in terms of treating diseases including Alzheimer’s and cancer and everything else”.

Read the full story in BBC News.

CQC’s state of health and care report warns of ‘tsunami of unmet need’

The CQC have published their annual assessment of health and social care in England – the ‘State of Care’. The report warns of a ‘tsunami’ of people who will not have the care that they require this winter.

In the report, the CQC has urged immediate work to address rising numbers of unfilled care sector jobs and confirm fears that social care providers are facing a staffing crisis, losing staff to better paid jobs in retail and hospitality, and unable to recruit replacements.

Ian Trenholm, chief executive of the CQC, said in the report that “If we’re to get safely through this winter, there needs to be urgent action.”. He went on to say that local leaders of health and social care services will need “to make maximum use of everything they have at their disposal to get safely through the winter… If these things don’t happen there is the genuine risk of a tsunami of unmet need, with many people not getting the care that they so desperately need this winter.”

Read the full report on the CQC Website.


Quote of the week

Jeremy Hunt has called for the government to cut the time required between Covid vaccine doses to allow more booster jabs to be given as concern grows about the pace and organisation of the latest rollout.

“If you look at the higher hospitalisations, cases and death rates [in the UK] compared to countries like France and Germany, the heart of it is not actually things like mask-wearing and Covid passports, it is their higher vaccine immunity…This decision that’s been made that you can’t have your booster jab until six months after you had your second jab – how hard and fast should that rule be? Does it really matter, when it’s only nine weeks till the Christmas holidays, if someone has a booster jab after five months?”

Read the full story in The Guardian.