News From The Web

Harley Medical Group suffers online cyber-attack

The Guardian - 15th April 2014 2:51 pm

A leading cosmetic surgery provider has been targeted by a computer hacker who may have accessed details of nearly 500,000 people considering procedures.

The Harley Medical Group said it believed the cyber-attack was an attempt to extort money from the company and it had contacted police.

Some 480,000 initial inquiry forms submitted online may have been accessed and they include the potential clients’ names, addresses and telephone numbers, the company confirmed.

The form also lists cosmetic procedures, including breast enlargements, liposuction and tummy tucks, in which potential clients can express an interest.

Harley, which has 21 clinics across the UK, said confidential clinical and financial information was not accessed.

Read more in The Guardian.

Care Act to expand top up fees market in care homes

- 12:23 pm

Top-up fees paid by care homes residents could be about to increase exponentially, claims a report.

The advent of the Care Act legally allows council-funded clients to dip into their own savings in order to secure a bed in a more expensive long term care facility.

LangBuisson research suggests that while the Act will bring about a dramatic shift in the number of clients who are eligible for local authority support, a move to allow greater use of third party payments to part-fund care places could mean that more people actively seek out care places which have a higher price tag than those typically funded by councils.

At present councils fund care home places only for those people who have personal assets of £23,250 or less. Following recommendations made by in the Dilnot Commission in 2011, this threshold will rise to £118,000 in 2016.

Chief executive of LaingBuisson, William Laing, said: “The implementation of the Dilnot reforms is expected to shrink the present ‘pure private pay’ market share from 44% to 35% as around 35,000 English care home residents become eligible for local authority funding.

“A critical issue for the sector is whether most or all of these newly enfranchised residents will move into the quasi-private pay category by part-funding their care with top ups or whether they will become pure local authority-funded residents.”

Read more at Social Care Worker.

Millions wasted on flu drug, claims report

- 10th April 2014 10:43 pm

Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.

The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.

The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

The antiviral drug Tamiflu was stockpiled from 2006 in the UK when some agencies were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain. Similar decisions were made in other countries.

The drug was widely prescribed during the swine flu outbreak in 2009.

Drug companies do not publish all their research data. This report is the result of a colossal fight for the previously hidden data into the effectiveness and side-effects of Tamiflu.

Read more at BBC Health.

Cameron “does not care two hoots for Welsh NHS”

BBC Health - 9th April 2014 9:58 pm

Prime Minister David Cameron “doesn’t care two hoots about the NHS in Wales”, claims First Minister Carwyn Jones.

On Wednesday, Mr Cameron said Welsh Labour’s health record was “dreadful” and the NHS in Wales was “a shambles”.

Mr Jones said the prime minister was “trying to divert attention from his own problems - it’s an old trick”.

Responding to Mr Cameron’s latest attack on the Welsh government, Mr Jones told BBC Radio Wales: “This is the thirty-first time that he’s done this - it’s becoming a bit of an obsession for him.”

At question time in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron had said: “We have seen an 8% cut to the budget in Wales for the NHS.

“The last time A&E targets were met was 2009, the last time cancer treatment targets were met was 2008.

“Over a third of people miss out on access to diagnostic services within eight weeks.

“There is a truly dreadful record when it comes to Labour’s NHS in Wales and you see a huge contrast now with the NHS in England - properly funded, well run, meeting the key targets - and the shambles there is in Wales.”

Read more at BBC Health.

High healthcare enrolment in Obamacare in US

BBC Health - 2nd April 2014 12:57 pm

US President Barack Obama says his embattled signature healthcare programme is “here to stay” after more than 7 million Americans signed up.

Obama lashed out at repeated conservative efforts to repeal or defund the law, calling it “troubling”.

There would be additional challenges to implementing the law, he said, but it was “working”.

An estimated 7.1 million Americans signed up for coverage to avoid penalties prior to Monday’s deadline for doing so, exceeding initial projections.

The Democrat leader has battled political opposition to Obamacare - officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - for years.

Republicans - who see it as an inappropriate government intrusion into the healthcare industry and an affront to personal liberty - are not expected to relent in their opposition to the law.

The 2010 law is intended to extend health insurance to the roughly 48 million Americans who do not receive it through their employers, the government, or a privately purchased plan.

It also aims to slow the growth in the cost of healthcare and requires private plans to meet a certain level of coverage.

Read more at BBC Health.

NHS urged to halve serious mistakes to save lives

BBC Health - 26th March 2014 10:28 am

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is urging the NHS in England to reduce the number of serious mistakes being made and save 6,000 lives over the next three years.

Mr Hunt said NHS trusts should draw up plans to halve “avoidable harm” such as medication errors, blood clots and bedsores by 2016-17.

He says this could stop a third of the preventable deaths in the coming years - equivalent to 6,000 lives saved.

The trusts that take action will get reduced premiums for insurance cover.

The push - called Sign up to Safety - will be voluntary and reliant on individual trusts identifying how many mistakes they make and coming up with plans to reduce them by half.

The move is being accompanied by a number of other measures designed to improve safety in the health service, including the introduction of a duty of candour.

Read more at BBC Health.

Thousands of redundant NHS staff rehired

BBC Health - 17th March 2014 11:04 pm

New figures indicate that almost 4,000 staff made redundant from the NHS in England, before last year’s major restructuring, have since been re-employed.

Labour asked for the data to be released to Parliament.

The government blamed “unacceptably lax” contracts that allow staff to re-join the NHS a month after redundancy.

It says it’s working on tough new plans to cap payouts, and has reduced administrative posts overall.

Auditors have previously reported that the average payout was £43,000.

The number of national health service staff estimated to have been made redundant and later re-employed almost doubled in the last year - from 2,200 managers - Ministerial responses to Parliamentary Questions have revealed.

The total now stands at 3,950.

Read more in BBC Health.

NHS must spend billions on reform or disappear

The Guardian - 13th March 2014 1:25 pm

Billions of extra funding will be needed for the NHS to help push through “painful and unprecedented” changes during the next parliament, the outgoing boss of the health service warns.

In a frank interview with the Guardian, Sir David Nicholson said that whoever formed the next government would need to give the NHS extra cash because it could not survive if it had to remain in the straitjacket of austerity-era flat budgets after 2015.

The money would be needed so the NHS can dramatically rationalise hospital services, and concentrate its specialist and GP services – allowing an NHS Nicholson calls “unsustainable” to ditch its outmoded reliance on hospital-based treatment and switch to a new model of community-based care.

Nicholson declined to say how much more cash he believed would be required, but another senior NHS leader privately suggested it could be up to £5bn extra a year for several years.

Read more in The Guardian.

MPs grant new powers to close local hospitals

BBC Health - 1:16 pm

MPs have voted through a controversial measure that gives England’s health secretary powers to close local hospitals, even if they are performing well.

Clause 119 in the Care Bill allows a hospital to be closed or downgraded if a neighbouring trust is struggling financially.

The government maintains it is a good way to address local care issues.

But critics say the powers put finances ahead of patient care.

Clause 119 gives special administrators the power to make changes to neighbouring services while trying to rescue failing NHS trusts.

It was inserted into the bill after the High Court ruled last October that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had acted outside his powers when he decided the emergency and maternity units at Lewisham Hospital, in south-east London, should be cut back to save a neighbouring trust that was going bust - Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich.

Read more at BBC Health.

MPs debate greater NHS hospital closure powers

BBC Health - 11th March 2014 10:32 am

MPs are set to debate a controversial measure which would give ministers sweeping powers to close hospitals.

Clause 119 of the Care Bill would allow administrators appointed to oversee NHS trusts in England that are struggling financially to make decisions over the future of neighbouring trusts as well.

The measure is the government’s response to a court ruling last year.

It said ministers acted illegally in proposing a downgrading of maternity and A&E services at Lewisham hospital.

The measure would allow Trust Special Administrators, appointed by the Health Secretary in England, to take over any NHS trust that is failing financially and push through whatever other local changes they think are necessary.

Last year a court ruled that Jeremy Hunt had acted illegally when he tried to do just this - by approving the closure of services in one south-east London trust to save a neighbouring trust that was going bust.

Read more in BBC Health.