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This week's Friday Five: 24/3/23

New NHS care centres for pregnant women

Pregnant women across the UK will now have access to speciality medical care centres providing support for women with pre-existing health conditions and those who develop further conditions during pregnancy.

The opening of these care centres reflect the NHS's ambition of halving the maternal mortality rates by 2025. Currently there is at least one centre in every UK region and the NHS is ensuring that each speciality hub will have a dedicated multidisciplinary team, including an obstetric physician and doctors specialising in medical problems during pregnancy.

Discussing these importance of these centres, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, England's Chief Midwifery Officer, said: “We know that pre-existing medical problems are a significant factor in the variation in rates of mortality for Black and Asian women. The establishment of these maternal medical networks will improve every woman’s access to specialist care for medical problems in pregnancy and will play an important part in our wider efforts to improve care for women and babies right across our maternity services.”

Read more at NHS England

Four out of ten hospitals use outdated hospital equipment

According to a new research published by the Liberal Democrats, four in ten NHS hospitals in England are currently using outdated medical equipment. Included in this are hundreds of old X-ray machines, CT scanners and radiotherapy machines, many of which are dating back to the 1980s. This research is based on the freedom of information requests of 69 hospital trusts, in which 41 said their X-ray machines were over 20 years old.

The published data also found that the NHS paid almost £20 million over the last three years to maintain old X-ray machines and scanners. The Lib Dems call for this to change and for additional funding to be allocated to NHS trusts to help replace old machines and ensure high-quality care options are available for patients.

The Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey discussed the impact of these findings, he said: “It beggars belief that NHS staff are having to rely on results from decades-old hospital scanners, machinery that may have been built before they were even born. Understaffed and exhausted NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point, while patients are treated in crumbling hospitals with outdated equipment.”

Read more at The Guardian

Polio vaccinations offered to children aged between 1-11 years

Children in London aged between one to eleven will now be offered polio vaccines as part of a new NHS catch-up campaign. This change comes after health officials warned that the polio virus has been detected in sewage samples in North and East London.

Despite Polio being eradicated in the UK in 2003, there now must be 12 months of zero viral detections before the UK is no longer considered a polio infected country. Currently across the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) 87.6% of children in London are receiving their polio vaccines compared to the 92.1% across England as a whole. To increase the number of children getting their vaccines, the NHS in London will now begin delivering a catch-up campaign offering the jabs to unvaccinated/partially vaccinated children (1-11 years) during the summer term.

Discussing this initiative, Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA said: "While there are early signs of reduced spread of the poliovirus in London, we need to continue to improve uptake of childhood vaccines in all communities. Until we reach every last child, we cannot be sure that we will not see a case of paralysis. Even a single case of paralysis from polio would be a tragedy as it is completely preventable."

Read more at The Telegraph

New four day doctor strike announced for April

Junior doctors in England are to go on a four day strike in April (11th April - 15th April), seeking a 35% pay increase. This comes following a meeting on Wednesday between Health Secretary Steve Barclay and the BMA in which Mr Barclay labelled the pay demands as "unaffordable".

Across the NHS a deal has been made offering NHS staff a 5% pay rise in April and a one of payment of a minimum of £1,655. Key workers including nurses, ambulance staff and physiotherapists are going to vote on whether to accept the deal. Despite the three biggest health unions including the Royal College of Nursing, the GMB and Unison all suggesting the deal should be accepted, the BMA have argued that a 35% pay increase is the minimum that they will accept.

Discussing the impact of this, Dr Robert Laurenson co-chair of the BMA's junior doctor committee has said: "It is with disappointment and great frustration that we must announce this new industrial action. The government has dragged its feet at every opportunity. It has not presented any credible offer and is refusing to accept that there is any case for pay restoration, describing our central ask as 'unrealistic' and 'unreasonable'."

Read more at BBC News

Quote of the week

A new Covid-19 booster vaccination will become available next month, a step which hopes to reduce the risk of serious Covid illness as we move into the summer months. The jab will be available to everyone over 75, care-home residents and any other groups aged over five who are particularly vulnerable.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, discusses the importance of increased vaccination uptake, saying: "It is important those at highest risk of severe illness do not become complacent and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward once the booster programme starts."

Read more at BBC News

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