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Bogus psychiatrist, Netflix and, of course, more Brexit – this week’s Friday Five

1 in 5 local hospital trusts failing to treat patients on time

In England, 16 hospital trusts out of 131 missed all their monthly targets meaning performance has sunk to its worst levels in recent times.  Research by the RCN showed hospitals are facing shortage of both beds and staff, contributing to the delays. A combination of rising demands and the need to prioritise emergency patients has also been blamed by NHS trusts which are struggling the most.

A&E patients in the UK are meant to be seen and either discharged or referred for further treatment within four hours in the UK. Cancer patients are expected to be seen within 62 days of an urgent referral and non-emergency treatments within 18 weeks in England and Scotland and 26 weeks in Wales. The latter is one the biggest variations in the way performance is judged, whereas the former there are only slight variations between nations.

For the first time since targets were introduced over a decade ago England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all failed to hit any targets for more than a year, with wales hitting none of their targets for at least five years.

Read more in BBC.


Jailed NHS psychiatrist practised for 22 years without a license

Zholia Alemi joined the UK medical register in 1995 and her bogus credentials were only identified after she was convicted for trying to defraud an elderly patient for her £1.3m inheritance, by writing herself into their will.

Alemi claimed to have qualified as a doctor at University of Auckland, New Zealand, but she had actually dropped out in the first year of medical school.

The General medical council insisted that she joined the medical register in the UK under a section of the Medical Act which has not been used since 2003, which allowed graduates of medical groups in certain commonwealth countries to obtain registration without sitting the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board exam. The GMC have apologised for the “inadequate” checks and have issued the urgent review of 3,000 doctors who registered through this route.

“It is clear that in this case the steps taken in the 1990s were inadequate and we apologise for any risk arising to patients as a result,” said Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC. “It is extremely concerning that a person used a fraudulent qualification to join the register and we are working to understand how this happened.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “As the organisation responsible for regulating doctors, we expect the GMC to investigate how this criminal was able to register as a doctor and put measures in place to make sure it can’t happen again.”

Read more on the Independent.


Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” influence on teen suicide 

A study conducted by The University of Michigan found that a significant proportion of suicidal teens treated in a psychiatric emergency department said that watching the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why had increased their suicide risk.

The hit show has raised concerns previously among mental health experts as the story which is focused on a 17-year old student, who before taking her own life, recorded cassettes that detail 13 reasons why she committed suicide. This has been thought to have a negative impact on vulnerable youths.

The findings were published in the journal of Psychiatric Services and out of 43 youths who had watched at least one episode of the show about half, said it had heightened their suicide risk.

Read more in the HealthLab.


CEO of MHRA to step down following Brexit

Ian Hudson, Chief Executive of the UK’s medicine regulator, will step down from his post in September 2019 after working at the agency for almost two decades.

He will leave 6 months after the UK is due to leave the European Union and in the event of a no-deal Brexit,  the government has said: “The MHRA would be a stand-alone medicines and medical devices regulator, taking any decisions and carrying out any functions which are currently taken or carried out at EU level.

Hudson mentioned that after 6 years leading the organisation, he is leaving for “personal and professional reasons” and “Our agency makes a real difference to the health of millions of people in the UK, Europe and beyond, and it has been an honour to be part of that.”

Read more on the HSJ.


Junior doctor whistleblowing case cost NHS £700k

In October 2014, Chris Day, a junior doctor claimed that he was dismissed and treated unfairly by Lewishman and Greenwich Trust and Health Education England (HEE) because he was a whistleblower.

The appeal by Dr Day resulted in a change of law, with now HEE and NHS trusts being co-employers to trainee doctors and trainees have whistleblower protection from both the agency and their trust.

However, Dr Day later withdrew his claim of unfair treatment because he was a whislteblower in 2018 and together with HEE said the employment tribunal was “likely to find that both the trust and HEE acted in good faith towards Dr Day following his whistleblowing and that Dr Day has not been treated detrimentally on the grounds of whistleblowing”.

Read more in HSJ.


Quote of the week

“Reuniting an old man with his cat turns out to be the best medicine, which leaves me wondering how often doctors are cognisant of the silent distress of patients who are separated from their pets. Not often, I suspect.”

This week’s quote comes from Ranjana Srivastava, an oncologist and award-winning author, who explains her experiences with patients experiencing emotional distress, due to separation from their pets.

Read more in The Guardian.

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