Elton John and Prince Harry, care homes, viagra deaths, and cannabis- this week’s Friday 5


Trials on Viagra-like drugs halted after babies die

A Dutch study that saw pregnant women given anti-impotence drugs to improve the growth in their unborn children has been halted following the deaths of 11 newborn babies. It is feared that the drug- which was used to increase blood flow during pregnancy- may have caused lethal damage to the babies’ lungs. As part of the study, 93 women were given the drug, whilst another 90 were given a placebo. From this, twenty babies developed lung problems after birth- three in the placebo group and the remaining 17 in the treatment cohort. Earlier trials in the UK, and Australia and New Zealand, however, did not find any evidence of potential harm from the use of such drugs. Experts state that a full investigation is needed to better understand what happened, and there is no suggestion of any wrong-doing.

Read more on the BBC.

 

Home Secretary announces that medical cannabis will be made available on prescription

On Thursday, Sajid Javid announced that for the first time ever, medical cannabis will be available on prescription. The Home Secretary acknowledged that the case of Billy Caldwell had compelled him take another look at the Government’s policy on medical cannabis. What the announcement means is that cannabis-derived products, which meet safety and quality standards, will be reclassified by Autumn. With the reclassification, a special licence will no longer be needed and can be instead prescribed by a specialist clinician. In the meantime, all fees for licences for medical cannabis use are to be waived.

Read more on the Telegraph.

 

Private hospitals feel the pinch as the NHS takes more of its services back in house

Private hospitals in the UK are beginning to see the effects of NHS cuts and a relaxation of guidelines around patient waiting times. The income of the private hospital market in providing NHS operations and procedures has grown from less than ten per cent a decade ago, to over fifteen percent in 2018. This growth is in part a result of changes brought in in 2007, which saw patients given the choice to choose to be treated in a private hospital paid for by the NHS. However, in 2016, fines for NHS hospitals that failed to treat patients within 18 weeks were scrapped, which saw fewer patients referred to private hospitals for treatment. BMI Healthcare, the country’s largest private hospital provider, saw a 4.4 per cent decrease in its NHS caseload in the five months up to the February, compared to the year before.

Read more on the Financial Times (£).

 

A new campaign to reduce the HIV rate in males is launched by Elton John and Prince Harry

The Duke of Sussex joined the veteran singer in Amsterdam for the Aids 2018 Summit to launch a new campaign aimed at reducing the growing rates of HIV in young men. Speaking to the audience, Prince Harry said ‘I am honoured to be sharing the stage with someone who has always put people at the centre of his work. For over a quarter of a century, he has worked tirelessly to fund research services and communities around the world. Today, he has come to Amsterdam to announce his latest endeavour: a billion dollar global partnership to break the cycle of male transition of HIV – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The partnership, ‘MenStar’, will target men living with or at risk of HIV in sub-Sahara Africa, an area that has been ravaged by AIDS since the 1980s. According to UNAIDS, the United Nations’ HIV/AIDS body, 36.7 million people around the world have HIV. Fewer than half of men living with HIV receive treatment compared with sixty per cent of women. Experts at the conference stated their hope that AIDS could be eliminated around the world by 2030.

Read more on Reuters.

 

Report casts new light on the crisis in care home capacity

Research by LaingBuisson has found that elderly people are being turned away from care homes because of staff shortages, despite spare beds being available. Analysing the data from the Care Quality Commission, researchers have found that the capacity of the care system is at 85 per cent- below the 90% figure that had previously been calculated. Rather, shortages in suitable accommodation arise as a result of managers leaving beds empty. In fact, the data showed that some were leaving whole floors, units, and homes without any patients.

The research found that “the number of registered but unavailable beds is much greater than previously thought.” With managers taking ‘a conscious decision not to admit residents to full capacity, usually for staffing reasons, either because they cannot recruit the staff or, more likely, the additional revenue from occupied beds is insufficient to justify incurring additional staffing and other costs.’ Also included in the report was the news that the trend of care home closures had slowed, with 900 new beds added in the year up to March 2018.

Read more in The Telegraph.

 

Quote of the week

Our quote of the week is from Louise Brown who this week celebrated her fortieth birthday. However, Louise’s birth was not a usual birth. Or at least not in 1978. That’s because she was the first person in the world to be born through IVF. Writing for The Independent, Louise speaks about what her birth means to her, and the amazing potential it represented to millions in the four decades since…

“IVF in its many forms brings hope for people in despair that they will never have a child. So many things have changed in the decades that have gone by, but the desire for couples to have babies has not.”

Read more on The Independent.