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Anti-smoking adverts, end-of-life care and #AxeTheFax – this week’s Friday Five

Philip Morris faces backlash from anti-smoking advertisement

One of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris, has been accused of hypocrisy over a new ad campaign that encourages smokers to quit.

The company, whose products include Malboro, said the move was “an important next step” in its aim to “ultimately stop selling cigarettes”. But Cancer Research UK said the firm was just trying to promote its smoking alternatives, such as heated tobacco. “This is a staggering hypocrisy,” it said, noting that the firm still promotes smoking outside the UK.

Health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) also criticised the campaign – which is called Hold My Light and has been launched in a four-page wraparound on Monday’s Daily Mirror – saying it was a way for Philip Morris to get around the UK’s anti-tobacco advertising rules. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said, “the fact of the matter is that it can no longer do that in the UK… So instead Philip Morris is promoting the company name which is inextricably linked with Marlboro,”

Like many tobacco firms, Philip Morris is moving towards a focus on new products to replace cigarettes as the number of smokers in the UK continues to decline. The firm’s managing director Peter Nixon said its new advertising campaign was “about supporting smokers in finding alternatives”.

Read more on the BBC.


“game changer” multi-drug resistant TB cure

With tuberculosis killing at least 1.7 million people in 2017, it is recognised as the world’s deadliest airborne infectious disease. A Belarus trial treating patients suffering with multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB) realised an impressive success rate of 93% patients cured. Currently, only 55% of people with MDR-TB are successfully treated. This was largely attributed to bedaquiline which has been shown in other trials to be effective at treating MDR-TB. Paula Fujiwara, scientific director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease said, “The results from this study confirm… that newer drugs like bedaquiline can cure and are game changers for people living with multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis,”

Read more on the BBC.


 Elderly people ‘let down’ by ‘agonising’ end-of-life care

Andrea Sutcliffe, of the Care Quality Commission, has said that every nursing hope should be capable of supporting people at the end of their life, following complaints from relatives that their loved ones are dying distressing and painful deaths.

There are voluntary frameworks that care homes can sign up to but many do not, and there is no legal requirement for staff to have end of life care training.

Sutcliffe, who is the chief inspector of adult social care for the regulatory commission said: “Nursing homes are where we see the greatest struggles in adult social care, largely because of the difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled nursing staff. It’s not acceptable that we cannot support people at the end of their life in the way that we want to. Some people can do it but it’s not happening everywhere and we need to get that sorted.”

Read more on BBC.


Public may have to stockpile drugs in no-deal Brexit

Martin Sawer, of the Healthcare Distributors Association, told MPs industry was “very concerned” about a no-deal as it could have “catastrophic” consequences for the supply of drugs. The government has asked firms to start stockpiling a six-week supply of drugs, and although Mr Sawer said there was no need for the public to do the same “yet”, this could change.

The UK imports 37 million packs of medicine each month from the EU, and even more are exported out of the country. There have been concerns that due to border issues post-Brexit, the supply chain could be disrupted.

Appearing before the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee, experts said small firms in particular were struggling to stockpile drugs as they do not have the cash flows to fund reserves, especially for medicines that need refrigerating like insulin and vaccines, or for those with short shelf lives.

This news comes just weeks after Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock urged hospitals, pharmacies and GP surgeries not to stockpile medicines in light of Brexit.

Read more on BBC.


Hancock: ‘we need to fire fewer chief executives’

Matt Hancock has commented that the NHS must stop responding to perceived service or project failures by firing NHS trust chief executives. Earlier in his speech to the Public Policy Projects group, the health secretary had said he wanted to give NHS leaders “more permission to fail” and added that “a lower fear of failure is one of the important cultural changes we need to drive through the health system”. This comes after his vision for expanding the use of technology in the NHS and continues to say, “The medical and pharmaceutical change processes are understandably very cautious because of the negative impact of getting it wrong could bring. That means our change culture in the NHS – and this is true of health systems around the world – is very, very cautious and that need not be so.”

Read more in the Health Service Journal.


Quote of the week

Our quote of the week comes from chief information officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who spoke to The Guardian about his commitment to realising the #AxeTheFax campaign before the end of the year, after discovering Leeds Hospital NHS Trust has at least 345 fax machines!

“Can the Christmas No 1 be the last ring of a fax machine set to jingle bells? We think it can in Leeds.”

Read more in the The Guardian.

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