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National incident declared over polio virus, lack of diversity in top ranks of ICSs and hardest year

National incident declared as polio virus found in London sewage

A national incident has been declared by public health officials as routine surveillance of wastewater in north and east London found evidence of community transmission of poliovirus for the first time.

There have been no reports of the disease or related paralysis and the risk to the general public is considered low, but public health officials have urged people to make sure that they and their families are up to date with polio vaccinations to reduce the risk of harm. Whilst the UK sewage typically picks up a handful of unrelated polioviruses each year, the London samples detected since February raise the alarm because they were related to one another and contained mutations that suggested the virus was evolving as it spread from person to person. The outbreak is thought to have been triggered by a person returning to the UK after having the oral polio vaccine and spreading it locally. It is unclear how much the virus has spread, but it may be confined to a single household or an extended family.

Dr Vanessa Saliba consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA explained: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower… On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated, so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your red book.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

NHSE calls for improvement in recruitment process to address lack of diverse candidates in top ranks of ICSs

NHSE talent and leadership director has criticised the lack of diversity among the top ranks of the country’s new integrated care systems.

NHSE’s director of leadership and lifelong learning director, Jacqueline Davies has called for recruiters to be challenged. At the NHS Confederation conference she said: ‘[If] your firms aren’t giving you diverse candidate pipelines, then please work with another firm’. A recent survey carried out by the NHS Confederation’s BME Leadership Network, revealed that more than half of the health service’s minority ethnic leaders had considered leaving the NHS because of workplace racism. Senior ICS sources have describe the emerging organisations as a missed opportunity to increase the number of NHS leaders from diverse backgrounds, as just one of 42 ICS CEOs is known to be from an ethnic minority background.

Ms Davies commented on the recruitment process that: ‘You have to make [it] transparent, you have to look in different places, and also really challenge your recruitment search partners. One of the big conversations we’ve had about senior board recruitment is asking our executive search colleagues and recruitment firms to step up to the plate and do better.’

Read the full story in Health Service Journal.

Hardest year to enter UK medical school ‘in living memory’

Medical school heads have described this as the hardest year in living memory for students to gain a place to study medicine. They have warned that unless the government increases the number of doctor trainee places now, there will be a ‘disaster’ in the NHS in 10 years’ time.

Whilst medicine has long been one of the most competitive subjected for A-Level students to gain a place in, this year has been even more intensely competitive due to many places being allocated already to students who were encouraged or paid to defer during the pandemic disruption last year and due to a demographic surge in 18 year-olds. Admission service UCAS have stated that fewer than 16% of applicants to study medicine and dentistry resulted in an offer this year, compared to 20.4% in 2021.

Sir Andrew Goddard, gastroenterology consultant and president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), said: ‘To me it’s obvious and quite frightening. If we don’t invest in training more doctors now, in 10 years’ time the NHS will face disaster.’

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Annual report finds stroke units have too few nurses

An annual report of the acute organisational audit for 2021 has warned that fewer than half of stroke units in England have the recommended number of trained nurses, this is a drop of 10 percentage points in two years.

The report revealed that just 49% of units met the minimum requirement for band six and seven nurses in 2021, compared with 59% in 2019. It added that 52% of sites have at least one unfilled post for consultants, which typically take months to fill. The report calls for an increase in the number of specialist nursing staff in stroke units, with three for every 10 beds, all of whom should be trained in swallowing assessments. At the moment the key performance indicator used in the audit is 2.375 band 6 and 7 nurses per 10 beds.

Gillian Mead, president of the British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians, said: ‘The data for acute stroke unit staffing are concerning… There has been a shift from trained to untrained nursing staff on acute stroke units. Reconfiguration of existing resources can only go part of the way to improve quality of care: it is crucial that services are properly staffed.’

Read the full story in Health Service Journal.

Quote of the week

A watchdog has warned that patients in secure mental health units across England could miss out on vital medications due to a shortage of learning disability nurses. Jonathan Beebee of the Royal College of Nursing called for the government to urgently address the nursing workforce shortage starting with a fair pay rise to boost retention.

‘[T]he shortage of learning disability nurses is directly impacting on the quality of patient care… Without the right nursing staff working in the right settings, patient care suffers. The shortage of learning disability nursing staff is threatening patient safety.’

Read the full story in Health Service Journal.

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