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This week's Friday Five: 23/9/22

Health and Social Care secretary announces 'Our plan for patients'

This week, Thérèse Coffey announced the government's latest plans for the NHS and social care.

Key priorities outlined in the plan include

  • Delivering all GP appointments within 2 weeks

  • Making an additional 31,000 phone lines available for practices

  • Informing and empowering patients by being more transparent with data

  • Expanding mental health support for children at school

  • Recruiting more 111 and 999 call handlers

  • Expanding capacity for testing and faster diagnoses

  • Freeing-up time to allow carers to care by using IT to reduce bureaucracy

Read the full plan here.

New diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease based on smell

A woman with a rare condition which gives her a heightened sense of smell has worked with researchers to develop a new test for Parkinson's disease after she diagnosed her husband based on a change in his smell.

Joy Milne said that she noticed her husband's smell change years before he was diagnosed with the disease. Her unique ability led researchers to further examine how this could be due to chemical changes in molecules in the skin triggered by early stages of the disease and develop a new test involving a skin swab.

Professor Perdita Barran, researcher at the University of Manchester said: "At the moment, there are no cures for Parkinson's, but a confirmatory diagnostic would allow them to get the right treatment and get the drugs that will help to alleviate their symptoms.

Read the full story at The i.

CQC calls for an urgent end to reactive quick fixes in the NHS

A new report by the Care Quality Commission has called for an urgent shift away from reactive quick fixes and a move towards proactive longer term solutions.

The new guidance recommends offering flexible rostering, upskilling community and acute teams, providing frailty care for older people in emergency departments seven days a week and providing clinical validation to 111 and 999 services to safely reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

Sir Robert Francis, chair of Healthwatch England, said “This [guidance] rightly describes the situation as a system crisis and alerts us to the danger of gross delays becoming the new normal, while undermining the trust and confidence the public are entitled to have in their NHS and social care services and the already stressed morale and wellbeing of our hard-working and dedicated NHS and social care staff.”

Read the full story in HSJ.

UK opens first early cancer institute

The first institute dedicated solely to detecting and studying cancers at the earliest stage has been opened in Cambridge.

Researchers at the institute focus solely on developing innovative solutions to identifying cancer in its earliest stage, which will improve survival rates and treatment outcomes.

Institute director Rebecca Fitzgerald said: "Outcomes can be transformed if the cancer is diagnosed early enough and we have the right treatments. People have tended to shy away from researching early cancer but unless we do this work we are not going to improve survival rates for the majority of our patients."

Read the full story in BBC news.

Quote of the week

Results from a clinical trial studying the effects of Toforsen in patients with motor neurone disease showed that some participants reported better mobility and lung function after a year of treatment. Researchers stated that this is the first trial where patients have reported an improvement in their motor functions.

Les Wood, who was diagnosed with MND 10 years ago and first took part in the Phase 3 trial in 2016 said: “After 12 months of taking the drug I could actually walk in the house without sticks, I was able to come off some of my painkillers and I felt a lot better in myself."

Read the full story in ITV news.

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