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Friday five: top health stories of the week

This week Private Finance Initiative contracts, NHS staff shortages and ground-breaking Leukaemia treatments lead the stories.

The NHS is ‘leaking millions’ through Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts

PFI contracts, which were first signed in 1997, are costing the NHS millions each year. The Centre for Health and Public Interest (CHPI) has released a publication, analysing 107 PFI contracts, who have made pre-tax profits of £831m in the last six years. Read more on the BBC.

The NHS has announced a £100m recruitment drive for foreign GPs

The NHS hopes to add 5,000 new GPs from overseas by 2020 to address the staff shortage crisis that is currently facing the health service. The initial drive is to find 2,000 – 3,000 doctors, with an overall aim of 5,000 new GPs. Read more on the Independent.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first gene-altering treatment for Leukemia

The FDA in the United States has approved the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s immune system to target cancer cells. The new technique turns a patient’s cells into a “living drug”, training them to target and attack cancer cells. The results to date have led to long remissions and potential cures. Read more on the New York Times.

Over 700,000 pacemakers could be hacked

It has been announced that 745,000 pacemakers in the US have key cyber-flaws which have left them vulnerable to hacking. Abbott, the manufacturer, have said there are another 280,000 devices elsewhere in the world. Theoretically, the devices could be altered to pace too quickly or their batteries run down too quickly. Read more on the BBC.

NHS issues new guidance to help acid attack victims

The NHS has issued guidance on how to help victims of acid attacks, following the rise of incidences. In the six months to April this year there was 400 attacks, whereas in 2015 there were only 25. Read more on the Evening Standard and NHS Choices.

Quote of the week – Dr Michael Farquhar on why he became a doctor

“As a paediatrician it was, eventually, my privilege to be there for other children in moments like that just as those doctors were there for my sister. This time of the year always reminds me how lives can change in a moment and how strangers can save everything. Despite all of the difficulties we face in the NHS, all of the politics, it’s why I’m still very proud and honoured to be a doctor.”  The Guardian


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