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This week's Friday Five 17/03/23

New funding to help develop innovative medications

The HM Treasury has announced that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will receive £10 million of funding to help bring new innovative healthcare products to the UK. This funding will be allocated over the next two years and will help to shorten the approval process associated with developing new medications. This includes developing cancer vaccinations alongside Artificial Intelligence based therapeutics for supporting mental health care.

Discussing this additional funding, Dr June Raine, the Chief Executive of MHRA said:

“We greatly welcome the £10 million funding announced by HM Treasury today, which will be used to fund our ongoing innovation work and to accelerate the development of ground-breaking global recognition routes, which will give UK patients faster access to the most cutting-edge medical products in the world.”

Read more at GOV UK

New guidance issued for cold and flu medications

The public has been warned to avoid taking 20 common cough and cold medicines following safety risks. Included in this are capsules of Day and Night Nurse alongside other medications produced by Boots and other drugstore brands.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have highlighted that the reason for this is due to a very rare risk of anaphylaxis. A risk that researchers have shown increases in individuals who have undergone surgery and require medications alongside their anaesthetics - impacting less than 1 in every 10,000 procedures.

The concern is related to products containing pholcodine - a cough suppressant. The Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) who advises the MHRA are asking patients to check the labels of their household medications for this product and seek advice from their pharmacists regarding the use of alternative medications.

Discussing these changes the MHRA has said:" Given the advice of the CHM and the lack of identifiable effective measures to minimise the increased risk of anaphylactic reactions to NMBAs, pholcodine containing medicines are being withdrawn from the UK market and will therefore no longer be available in pharmacies.”

Read more at The Telegraph

Three in four patients are not seen within target time

Data compiled by NHS Benchmarking, an organisation which analyses mental health data from trusts, finds that nearly three-quarters of adult patients and two-thirds of children requiring community mental health support are waiting over four weeks for treatment.

In 2021, NHSE proposed implementing a series of waiting time standards across mental health services. Within this was a four-week standard to support those needing non-urgent community mental health care. However, due to a lack of funding and data issues, the standards have not been introduced. There is currently no timeline set for its implementation.

A spokesperson for NHSE said: "NHS mental health services have been treating record numbers and this demand continues to grow with more than 500,000 people accessing community services over the last year. The NHS is matching this demand by expanding its workforce with hundreds more therapists employed in adult mental health services, while three million pupils in England will have access to NHS mental health support in schools from next month.”

Read more at HSJ

New research shows UK life expectancy is increasing behind G7 countries

According to new research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, life expectancy in the UK has grown at a slower rate over the past seven decades than in other comparable countries (G7 advanced economies).

The researchers of this study suggest that the reasons for this change are in part due to widening income inequalities and longer-term healthcare pressures including heightened deaths caused by growing A&E waiting times. These findings are supported by other studies which showed that the UK is falling behind many comparable European countries on maternal mortality. A factor which is often considered a warning sign for widening health problems.

Discussing the impact of this study, the study's co-author Dr Lucinda Hiam said: “A relative worsening of population health is evidence that all is not well. It has historically been an early sign of severe political and economic problems. This new analysis suggests that the problems the UK faces are deep-seated and raises serious questions about the path that this country is following.”

Read more at The Guardian

Quote of the week

Earlier this week, tens of thousands of junior doctors went on strike in a dispute over pay and current working conditions. Junior doctors are seeking a 35% pay increase, as their pay has not increased in line with inflation, leading to a pay cut of 26% from 2008.

An advertising campaign launched by the trade union said: "Pret a Manger has announced it will pay up to £14.10 per hour. A junior doctor makes just £14.09. Thanks to this government you can make more serving coffee than saving patients. This week junior doctors will take strike action so they are paid what they are worth."

Read more at Sky News

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