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Staff shortages, cancer, and a global NHS franchise – this week’s Friday 5

NHS vacancies a ‘national emergency’

Official figures show that NHS staff shortages are worsening in England, with one in 11 posts vacant.

The latest figures published by NHS Improvement show that for the April to June period, 11.8% of nurse posts and 9.3% of doctor posts were vacant. Overall, there was found to be a staff shortage of nearly 108,000.

Tom Sandford, of the Royal College of Nursing, said the report painted a “bleak picture”, pointing out that the number of nurse vacancies had risen by 17% in the past three months alone. Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund think tank, said the shortage of nurses was at risk of becoming a “national emergency”.

Read more on the BBC.


Cancer waiting times at worst levels since records began

July figures show that over 3,000 people waited over two months to begin treatment for cancer, missing the target of 62 days from urgent GP referral.

In July, just 78.2% were seen within this time, the worst performance since records began in October 2009. The NHS target is 85%.

This comes in the same week as news that an estimated 9.6 million people will die from cancer this year globally.

Read more on the BBC.


NHS to be global franchise

Under controversial government plans, the NHS will be exported worldwide post-Brexit to boost investment in Britain.

Hospitals and health organisations will be encouraged to set up franchises in dozens of countries, with a target of £7bn in opportunities over the next decade, a 7,000% increase on the current £100m in export business. The government hope that this will turn the NHS into a global brand, similar to how the BBC gains income from BBC Worldwide.

In recent years, a few NHS Trusts have set up franchises aboard. Moorfields, a specialist eye hospital, has branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT are developing hospital services in China.

Read more in the Telegraph.


Senior adviser to Public Health England quits 

Chief external alcohol adviser to Public Health England (PHE), Sir Ian Gilmore, has quit over the agency’s relationship with the alcohol industry.

Sir Ian accused PHE of undermining efforts to protect the public and claimed that the organisation were being duped into a false belief that they were working with the alcohol industry to reduce drinking rates.

In a letter published by the Times, he claimed that PHE has failed “to learn the lessons from the use by the tobacco and alcohol industries of voluntary agreements and other partnerships with health bodies to undermine, water down, or neutralise policies to reduce consumption”. His criticism has been support by John Britton, PHE advisor for tobacco, who is also considering resignation.

This news comes at the same time as revelations that alcohol dependancy is at a record high, yet just one in seven receive treatment.

Read more in the Times (£).


British women live shorter lives than other Europeans

An analysis by Public Health England (PHE) has found that women in the UK are living shorter lives on average than most of their European counterparts.

Spanish women have the highest life expectancy in Europe at birth, at 86.3 years. In comparison, the average for the UK is 83 years, placing it at 17th out of 28 EU member nations and 0.6 years below the EU average. UK men, however, come 10th in the rankings with an above average life expectancy of 79.4 years. Men in Italy place first with a life expectancy of 81.

The leading cause of death for women is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, responsible for 15.8% of deaths, with heart disease second at 8.3%. For men, that is reversed, as heart disease causes 13.6% of deaths and dementia and Alzheimer’s 8.3%.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be as healthy as anywhere in Europe,” said Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE.

Read more in the Guardian.


Quote of the week

“The NHS is not just doctors and nurses”

Our quote of the week is from Jo Horne, a biomedical scientist featured in the Guardian’s ‘Five hidden roles’, in which the spotlight is shone on the often unnoticed NHS staff who work behind the scenes. The article has received praise from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

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