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This week's Friday Five: 5/5/23

New Alzheimer's drug reduces cognitive decline by 35%

According to late-stage trial results a new Alzheimer's drug called Donanemab, produced by drugmaker company Lilly, is shown to slow cognitive decline by 35%.

The research study, which involved over 1,000 participants, showed that the drug successfully met all goals of the trial, slowing disease progression of Alzheimer's disease by 35 to 36% compared to a placebo. Furthermore, when accessing the long-term effects of the drug, 47% of patients on Donanemab showed no signs of disease progression in the year that followed compared to 29% on the placebo. The drug led to a 40% reduced decline in people's ability to perform activities of daily living and reduced the risk of the disease progressing to the next stage by 39% compared to patients taking the placebo.

Discussing the impact of this drug, Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the Alzheimer's Society in the UK, said: "This could be the beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s disease. After 20 years with no new Alzheimer’s drugs, we now have two potential new drugs in just 12 months – and for the first time, drugs that seem to slow the progression of disease.”

Read more at The Guardian

Sloman and Ferris to leave NHS England

This week it was announced that after two years, two of the top directors of NHS England, Sir David Sloman and Professor Tim Ferris will leave their roles in September.

Sir David took up the role of COO in December 2021 after leaving his role as NHSE regional director for London and Dr Ferris joined in March 2021, from Massachusetts General Physicians Organisation in Boston. Sir Jim Macket, who is the current director of elective recovery for NHSE is to become interim COO for NHSE following Sir David's retirement and Vin Diwakar, medical director for secondary care in the transformation directorate will cover Professor Ferris's role on an interim basis.

Discussing these changes, NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritchard thanked them for their contribution to the NHS and said: "We will confirm plans for the recruitment to the permanent positions of COO and national director of transformation in due course."

Read more at the HSJ

Lambeth GP practice eliminates blood pressure inequality

A 12-month project launched by GP practices in South London has helped to reduce blood pressure control between BAME and white patients. The project, which was delivered by the AT Medics Streatham Primary Care Network (PCN), was run by two GP surgeries in Lambeth. Lambeth is one of London's most deprived boroughs with around a quarter of residents living in poverty and roughly 40% of residents being from a black, asian or multi-ethnic background. High blood pressure remains a key cause of stroke and heart attacks, disproportionately affecting BAME and other deprived communities.

The project has been able to eradicate the 12% inequality gap that exists for blood pressure control between black and white patients by providing 98% of hypertensive patients with a check-up and blood pressure reading over 12 months.

Discussing the initiative, Dr Tarek Radwan, GP Director said: “The last 12 months have proved that we can not just reduce but actually eradicate health inequalities and raise the quality of care for everyone at the same time. I know the difference this will make to our local communities, and it really shows what is possible with a highly motivated multidisciplinary team.”

Read more at the Evening Standard

NHS urged to publish data on mental health checks

Doctors have called for the NHS to begin sharing figures on mental health checks for pregnant mothers, amid gaps in hospital data. This comes after it was revealed that one in six NHS trusts were unable to say whether they screen for mental health issues, despite national guidelines recommending that these checks should be done at week 10 in pregnancy.

The latest NHS figures show that in the last 12 months, 51,000 women accessed specialist perinatal mental health services, falling short of the 66,000 target set for 2022-2023.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has argued for NHS England to urgently publish data on every hospital to show which hospitals are currently carrying out this screening. Discussing this, Dr Trudi Seneviratne, consultant perinatal psychiatrist and registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Every pregnant woman should be screened for mental health issues at their antenatal booking appointment. More than eight years after routine screening was first recommended, we still don’t know if NHS Trusts are following the guidelines, and there is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest many women are missing out."

Read more at the Independent

Quote of the Week

Over a million NHS staff in England will receive a 5% pay rise after health unions backed the offer proposed by the Government in March. Across England, NHS staff including nurses, physios, ambulance workers and porters are to also receive a one-off payment of at least £1,655.

Discussing this news, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: "We will continue to engage constructively with unions on workforce changes to ensure the NHS is the best place to work for staff, patients and taxpayers."

Read more at BBC News

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