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This week's Friday Five: 7/10/22

First rapid diagnostic centres for cancer open in Wales

This week, Wales became the first region of the UK to open rapid diagnostic centres (RDCs) for cancer. These centres aim to cut diagnosis times for patients with unspecified but severe cancer symptoms. Previously, when patients had less obvious signs they would spend months going between specialists before receiving a diagnosis.

The RDC model was originally developed in Denmark - a country which has transformed cancer care after initially performing as badly as the UK.

National cancer clinical director Professor Tom Crosby said: "We went and saw something in Denmark and within 18 months the first one was happening in Wales."

Read the full story at BBC News.

Study confirms link between repetitive head impacts and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases

A long term study of former Scottish rugby union players has confirmed that players are more than twice as likely to develop a neurodegenerative disease as a result of repeated impacts to the head.

The study followed a group of rugby players and a control group for an average of 30 years, and found that the rugby players had a doubled incidence of dementia, a three times higher risk of Parkinson's disease, and a 15 times higher risk of motor neurone disease.

Luke Griggs, interim chief executive at Headway, the brain injury association, said: "These concerning figures confirm what we have known for a long time. There is a clear link between repeated blows to the head and increased susceptibility to degenerative neurological conditions."

Read the full story at Medscape.

Better continuity of primary care improves prescribing of cardiovascular medications

A new study in the British Medical Journal found that having a longer term relationship with the same GP is associated with improved prescribing of medications for cardiovascular disease, and better adherence to statin medication.

Patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease with poorer continuity of care were less likely to be prescribed statins than patients with the same condition but above average continuity of care. If statins are prescribed appropriately and taken correctly by patients it can help reduce the risk of stroke and further disease.

Dr Rupert Payne, senior co-author of the study, said: “We would encourage clinicians and policymakers to consider strategies to increase continuity of care with this goal in mind."

Read the full story at the BMJ.

NHS staff resignations hit record high

The latest workforce data shows that a record number of staff have voluntarily resigned from the NHS. At this time last year in 2021, 28,105 staff had resigned. In 2022 this rose to almost 35,000, a 25% increase.

Workers cite work life balance, incompatible working relationships and looking for better reward packages as their main reasons for leaving. Staff turnover data also highlighted that over the past year; more midwives, specialty registrars, ambulance staff and senior managers left the NHS than joined.

Nuffield Trust researcher Lucina Rolewicz said: "If NHS employers hope to retain valuable staff, then they must deliver on issues such as workplace culture and ensure the right training and support from employers is in place.”

Read the full story at HSJ.

Quote of the week

A new drug to treat chronic coughs could be the first approved in the UK for over 50 years.

It is estimated that between 4-12% of people in the UK suffer from chronic coughs. Patients with the condition express that their constant coughing can limit their social life and cause anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and muscle and rib pains. Clinical trial results showed that Gefapixant led to a 60% reduction in cough frequency and a significant improvement in quality of life in chronic cough patients.

Patty Harris, a 64 year old singer who has had a persistent cough since 1995 said: "People like me are desperate for a treatment that actually works.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

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