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Friday 5: top health news stories of the week

This week, the NHS, Pfizer and “Aussie flu” have dominated the news.

Patients dying in NHS hospital corridors

Doctors who collectively run 68 A&E departments have written to the Prime Minster this week, raising awareness of the “chronically underfunded” which is leading to patients dying in corridors. According to the letter, more than 120 patients are being managed in corridors; with over 50 patients at a time waiting for beds in emergency departments; and patients sleeping in clinics as make shift wards. There has been a mixed reaction to the letter with the President of the Society for Acute Medicine calling writing to the Prime Minister “unnecessarily alarmist”.

Read more on The Guardian

Pfizer pulls out of research into Alzheimer’s

The US pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced that it will be ending its research into neuroscience, and specifically into Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The company have said: “We have made the decision to end our neuroscience discovery and early development efforts and re-allocate funding to those areas where we have strong scientific leadership and that will allow us to provide the greatest impact for patients.” Whilst there is wide spread disappointment at this news, there is also understanding with Professor Tara Spires-Jones of Edinburgh University telling the Today programme that more than 99% of trials for Alzheimer’s have failed in the last 15 years.

Read more on BBC.

One in five cases of flu in hospitals is deadly “Aussie flu”

New figures released from Public Health England show that rates of flu have almost doubled in a week, and a 51 per cent increase in hospitalisations. Almost 2,000 patients have been admitted to hospital with the flu this season, and over a fifth of these are confirmed to be the deadly strain A(H3N2) or “Aussie flu”. The number of deaths from the infection is now at 85.

Read more on The Telegraph.

Parents of stillborn baby to sue NHS

The parents of Harriet Hawkins who was delivered stillborn in April 2016, are planning to sue Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, where they both work. The couple are making a civil claim for damages and referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service, Health and Safety Executive and the professional bodies of staff members highlighted in the NHS report. Mrs Hawkins was repeatedly denied admission, despite being in labour for five days and transferred between units due to staffing problems.

Read more on The Times (£).

Jeremy Hunt reappointed Health Secretary

Jeremy Hunt has been reappointed Health Secretary in this week’s cabinet reshuffle, gaining the new title of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, 10 Downing Street confirmed on Monday. Mr Hunt has been in post since 2012, and is now the longest serving Secretary of State since the NHS was created in 1948.

Read more on HSJ (£).

Quote of the week – Bart De Strooper on Pfizer and dementia:

“It is essential that all of us make long-term commitments to dementia research if we are to conquer it. My message to Pfizer is simple. Dementia represents too big a problem for you or any of us to walk away from. Stick with us. For sure we need your expertise, technical knowhow and resources. We also need to know that like us, you’re in this for the long run and won’t quit until the job is done. Millions of patients are looking to us for help. Are you with us?”

Read more in The Guardian

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