Friday five: the top health stories this week

This week frailty, ‘normal births’, patient privacy and Jeremy Hunt’s bathroom have dominated the news.

More care home places needed as the number of frail elderly increase

New research from Newcastle University suggests that the amount of time people need care at the end of life has doubled in England over the last twenty years. On average men will spend the last two and a half years needing extra care, whilst women will spend three years. The study, published in the Lancet reveals that almost 190,000 new care home places will be needed by 2035, with 70,000 needed by 2025. Read more in The Telegraph.

Royal College of Midwives abandons ‘normal birth’ campaign

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called for a shift in language and behaviour around the way midwives approach women during childbirth. The move away from ‘normal births’, used to refer to birth without any medical interventions, is to remove the stigmatisation of women who opt for epidurals, and stop them feeling like failures. The term ‘physiological birth’ will now be used to describe a birth without any interventions. The review comes after the campaign was criticised in an inquiry into the death of 16 babies and three mothers at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.

James Titcombe, father of Joshua, one of the babies who died at Furness, writes in The Guardian about his experience of the ‘normal birth’ campaign. Midwives failed to act on signs of a serious infection, which ultimately cost Joshua his life. Read more in The Guardian.

Information Commissioner’s Office rules NHS staff unlawfully accessing patient records is an offence

Brioney Woolfe, a former midwifery assistant at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, has been fined £1,715 for unlawfully obtaining and disclosing personal data. Woolfe inappropriately accessed 29 medical records, only two of whom were pregnant, because she was ‘nosy’ and shared the data with her ex-partner. Read more on Digital Health.

Drug-resistant fungus outbreak infects 200 patients across 20 trusts

Over 200 patients in 20 NHS trusts have been infected with a potentially deadly strain of Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus. The fungus was first discovered in Japan in 2009, and is ‘difficult to control’. A biosafety unit at Porton Down, the UK’s chemical weapons lab, has been undertaking response tests with disinfectants and antiseptics. A lack of nurses on wards has been blamed for the outbreak. Read more on the Independent.

Jeremy Hunt denies £44,000 Department of Health bathroom claims

A new, £44,000 bathroom has been commissioned for the new Department of Health offices in Victoria, with a toilet, power shower and sensor-activated lights. The Health Secretary denies claims that the facilities are for his own private use, instead says he requested a bathroom with a shower (as is currently available in the Whitehall offices) for all cyclists and runners to use. Read more in the Evening Standard.

Quote of the week – Bernie Sanders on the future of healthcare in America

“Establishing a Medicare for All single-payer program will improve the health of the American people and provide substantial financial savings for middle class families. It is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do.”  The Guardian.