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NHS waiting times, pay problems and a new CQC partnership – This Week’s Friday Five

Record high NHS waiting times

Figures from NHS England show that the second peak of Covid-19 has impacted waiting times across health services.

More than 300,000 people have been waiting for more than 52 weeks to begin hospital treatment. Cancer services have been affected, with 11% fewer referrals from GPs to investigate suspected cancer, compared with last January.

Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, said: “Admitting more than 100,000 Covid-19 patients to hospital in a single month inevitably had a knock-on effect on some non-urgent care. However, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and the innovations in treatment and care developed over the course of the pandemic, hospitals treated more than 1 million people with other conditions in January, at the peak of the winter wave, nearly twice as many as they did last April.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Head of NHS England calling for review of 1% pay rise

Following the government’s recommendation that NHS staff should receive a 1% increase in pay, Sir Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has said he wants “to see properly rewarded NHS staff, particularly given everything that the service has been through – they have been through – over the course of the last year.”

He noted that previous proposals set out in 2019 had budgeted a 2.1% increase and has called for independent pay review bodies to make a fair recommendation. His comments add to the growing discontent around the rise, including potential strike action by the Royal College of Nursing.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

Cancer patients are less protected by one dose of the vaccine

Cancer patients have been found to have significantly less protection against Covid-19 after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Researchers measured the levels of antibodies in volunteers’ blood to see how well the immune system reacted to the jab. For people with blood cancers, only 13% of people had an antibody response compared to 97% of those without cancer. The small study still needs to be reviewed, but this could mean that waiting 12-weeks for a second dose may leave cancer patients at risk.

In December, the government extended the interval between doses from three weeks to 12 weeks to give some level of protection to a larger group of people. Dr Sheeba Irshad, an oncologist working on the study at King’s College London, said that “one size does not fit all” and recommends re-examining the strategy around vaccination doses for vulnerable groups.

Read the full story in the BBC.

CQC and Equality and Human Rights Commission have new agreement

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have announced a collaboration which aims to improve people’s rights when receiving health and social care.

It will focus on combatting equality and human rights issues in relation to the impact of Covid-19 and will look at reducing inequalities in healthcare. The agreement details how the two organisations will work together to share expertise, undertake research together and plan cooperative communications.

Read the full story in PharmaTimes.


Quote of the week

The NHS Test and Trace system was implemented with a £37 billion budget with the aim of reducing the need for lockdowns.  Baroness Dido Harding, who heads the system at the National Institute for Health Protection, said “it is making a real impact in breaking the chains of transmission.” However, this week, MPs have questioned its value for money with Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee saying:

“We need to see a clearer connection between testing and stemming the spread of the virus.”

Read the full story in the BBC.

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