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Friday five: a round-up of the five top health stories this week

This week Waiting Times, Ian Paterson and Keith McNeil have dominated the news.

Waiting times for NHS surgery are at the highest for a decade

Figures have been released which estimate that more than four million people were waiting for NHS operations in June, a number that hasn’t been seen since 2007. Since June 2016 there has been an increase of more than 21% in the numbers waiting longer than 18 weeks to 373,182, showing the NHS is failing to meet its target to operate on 92% of patients within this timeframe. Read more on the BBC.

The NHS has paid £17m to victims of surgeon Ian Paterson

As of 31 July, NHS Resolution had received 277 claims involving Ian Paterson’s NHS practice and had paid a total of £17,411,639 to patients. The total cost to the NHS could yet rise as private patients have also launched a legal case against the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT), Spire Healthcare and Paterson himself. In addition to the private patients’ case, Spire are suing the NHS because they did not warn the company over their concerns over Paterson. Concerns were raised to HEFT first in 2003, but a ‘2013 report concluded that HEFT “preferred good news to true news” and allowed him to carry on operating.’ Read more on The Guardian & The Times (£).

Keith McNeil resigns from NHS England  

Dr Keith McNeil is leaving the NHS as their first national Chief Clinical Information Officer for ‘personal and family reasons’, returning to Australia after 13 months in the post. He will take up roles in Queensland as Deputy Director General at Queensland Health and Chief Medical Officer for Queensland. Read more on the HSJ.

Debates over cuts to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) funding resulting in a postcode lottery for treatment

Fertility network UK monitor the provision of IVF this week have raised concerns that just 27 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England meet the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations that the NHS should offer three full cycles of IVF for women under 40. Four areas including Croydon, Basildon and Brentwood do not offer any IVF services, whilst 125 only offer one cycle. Other areas such as Bristol and South Gloucestershire are proposing reducing the age of qualification to between 30 – 35. Read more on Sky News.

Trial success for diabetes jab brings hopes to thousands of patients

New trials of a twice-monthly injection can prevent and halt type 1 diabetes researchers have discovered. The team from Cardiff University and King’s College London have undertaken a proof-of-concept trial at five UK hospitals, with good signs that the treatment can slow or stop the disease. Read more on The Times (£).

Quote of the week – Sir David Tang on the NHS that saved his life

“My mother always told me that the UK provided the best education in the world, to which I now add the best hospital care in the world. The fact that it was free at the point of service defies even Einsteinian space-time. So I am glad I have paid my taxes in this country — before with reluctance, but now with alacrity. I hereby demote Asclepius and genuflect to Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS.”  The Financial Times

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