This week's Friday Five: 14/10/22


Digital mental health tools to be regulated by NICE and the MHRA

£1.8m has been allocated to explore the regulation of digital mental health tools following rapid growth in this area in recent years.

Risks and challenges present as although digital tools can be helpful, there is a lack of clarity around whether the tools are classified as medical devices. Establishing a classification will then determine the level of evidence required to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the tools.

Minister for Mental Health, Dr Caroline Johnson, said: "Digital mental health tools can be incredibly useful to help build resilience and prevent problems worsening, but it’s crucial these are regulated properly."

Read the full article at Medscape.


World first newborn genetic testing begins in the NHS

A new NHS genetic testing service will be able to rapidly identify newborn babies with genetic disorders within days - a process that has historically taken weeks.

Enabling more rapid processing of genetic samples means that treatment for rare genetic disorders can be started as soon as possible after birth and lead to better outcomes.

Amanda Pritchard, NHSE chief executive said: “This global first is an incredible moment for the NHS and will be revolutionary in helping us to rapidly diagnose the illnesses of thousands of seriously ill children and babies, saving countless lives in the years to come."

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Study finds no link between mediterranean diet and reduced risk of dementia

A new study that followed the diets of 28,000 participants found no link between their diet and a reduced risk of dementia.

The average age of participants was 58, and over a 20 year period they completed a seven day food diary. Analysis of the results found a lack of association between participants who followed a mediterranean diet and incidence of dementia. Researchers also found that eating a more conventional diet was not associated with an increased risk of dementia either. This contrasts with previous research suggesting that a healthy diet can reduce dementia risk.

Nils Peters, MD, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, said: “Diet on its own may not have a strong enough effect on memory and thinking, but is likely one factor among others that influence the course of cognitive function. Dietary strategies will still potentially be needed along with other measures to control risk factors.”

Read the full story at Neuroscience News.

NHS declare amber warning due to blood supply shortage

This week hospitals were warned to cancel operations due to shortages of blood supplies.

NHS Blood and Transplant say that staff shortages and a change in blood donor behaviour may have led to a reduced supply. However, patient groups have said that steps could have been taken earlier to prevent the crisis.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "Once again we see how workforce shortages impact on the care of patients. If long-awaited operations are being cancelled because there isn't enough donated blood available, it smacks of poor planning, especially when you hear of donors not being able to book an appointment to donate, and people leaving donation centres because there aren't enough staff to take their donation.”


Read the full story in The Telegraph.


Quote of the week:

A British Medical Association survey of consultant doctors found that 44% are planning to leave the NHS in the next 12 months. Reasons for planning to leave include: retiring early, taking a career break, working in the private sector or leaving medicine completely.


Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA consultants' committee, said: "The goodwill of staff upon which the NHS depends has all but dried up."

Read the full story at Medscape.