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This week’s Friday Five: 2/9/22

Services remain affected weeks after NHS cyber attack

A ransomware attack on software provider Advanced has led to weeks of disruption for the NHS, with the company alerting staff that it may take 12 more weeks to get services fully back online.

The attack left patient check-ins, medical notes and NHS 111 offline, with doctors resorting to taking notes with pen and paper. Some urgent care centres have been unable to properly send notifications to GP practices, and doctors haven’t been able to access patients healthcare notes. Staff have raised concerns that patient care will be impacted as a result.

An NHS spokesperson urges patients to access services as normal and said: “The use of electronic records is a small – but important – aspect of diagnosing and treating patients. Advanced is working to resolve their software problems, and since Monday 22 August, NHS 111 service providers have been coming back online.”

Read the full story in BBC News.

Over a million patients affected by GP surgery closures

A new investigation by Pulse Today reveals that over the last 9 years, 474 GP surgeries have closed without being replaced. These closures affected 1.5million patients across the country.

Practice closures were particularly concentrated in more deprived areas, and led patients to travel out of area to register at a new surgery. Investigators also suggest that the vast amount of patients left without a GP will have placed additional pressure on remaining practices.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The impact a practice closing on its patients and neighbouring practices can be considerable. As such, a decision to close a practice will be one of the most difficult a GP partner can make.”

Read more at Pulse Today.

New study links steroid use to changes in brain structure

The first study of its kind has investigated how glucocorticoids, a type of steroid drug used to treat autoimmune diseases, can lead to changes in the structure of the brain and potentially lead to increased risk of mental health issues.

Researchers compared brain scan images from patients taking glucocorticoids to images from a control group who hadn’t taken the medication and found great differences in brain structure between the two. They also linked these structural changes to an increased likelihood of depression and lethargy in the patient group.

Authors of the study said that the findings are “remarkable” and called for heightened awareness of the links between the treatments and potential neuropsychiatric side-effects.

Read more at The Telegraph.

Medically fit patients may wait 9 months for discharge

Data from 7 NHS trusts with consistently high delayed discharge numbers revealed that medically fit patients may wait up to 9 months to be discharged.

Trusts cite reasons such as lack of domiciliary care, waits for equipment, patients having more complex needs, being elderly and frail or having mental health conditions contributing to such extreme delays. There has also been a rise in working age people requiring hospital and social care services, and this increased demand may be further adding to pressures on the healthcare system.

David Maguire, a senior analyst at The King’s Fund think tank, said: “People are waiting longer once a decision has been made that they require surgery or other treatments, which can lead to their condition worsening and becoming more complex, which in turn makes their discharge potentially more complex.”

Read more at HSJ.

Quote of the week

New statistics have revealed that NHS staff vacancies are at the highest level on record at 132,139 – almost 10% of its planned workforce.

Saffron Cordery, the interim chief executive of NHS Providers said: “Today’s vacancy figures are staggering and further proof that the NHS simply doesn’t have enough staff to deliver everything being asked of it.”

Read more at The Guardian.


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