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SCH April Health News

Hello and welcome to another edition of your favorite health news round-up! With daffodils sprouting from any spare clump of grass, lighter mornings with some mild sunshine, it’s so nice to once again welcome spring. Trusting that you enjoy these health-related news articles from the past month :-

Sky News 17th March NHS pay rises will cost £4bn and will be funded from ‘areas of underfunding’ govt says

Downing Street has said it needs to find 34bn in spare cash to fund the pay deal offered to health unions to end NHS strikes, with some of it coming from areas of “underspend.” The one-off payment offered to frontline workers on Thursday will cost £2.7bn, Downing Street has said, while the 5% pay rise will cost £1.3 bn. A 3.5% pay increase had already been factored into the existing budget before a new deal was put to health unions, leaving ministers scrambling to find the rest.

Asked where the money will come from, the PM’s spokesperson said “areas of underspending” had been identified. They did not go into specifics but added “we will discuss with Treasury and work together to resolve any new funding needs.” Pressed on the source of the funding again, they said the money is “not coming from patient-facing services.”

Ministers previously said they can’t afford to give striking NHS workers a pay rise because the money would have to be taken out of the existing NHS budget – which was not considered an option at a time of record high waiting lists. But there was a major breakthrough on Thursday as the government and unions reached a new deal that could herald the end of industrial action across most of the health service.

The offer consists of a one-off payment of 2% of their salary plus a COVID recovery bonus of 4% for the current financial year 2022/23, and a 5% increase for 2023/24. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said it will apply to thousands of key workers including nurses, paramedics and midwives but could not say how the rise would be funded.

Inews 17th March – Junior doctor: ‘The NHS won’t be fixed in my working life. There’s no hope – I’m leaving the UK’

The 37-year-old cardiologist said it is a ‘stain on this country’s conscience’ that doctors, nurses, and paramedics have been driven to strike over chronically poor pay and working conditions. An experienced junior doctor who is leaving the NHS to practice medicine abroad said he has “no faith” that the health service is going to be fixable for its employees during his working life.

Asking to remain anonymous, he plans to leave the NHS despite being one year from consultancy level, having qualified more than a decade ago. “I think a serious department of health needs to take a look at how to stop this happening again,” he told inews. He thinks nurses and paramedics “deserve more” than the Government’s offer and called for salaries to be increased annually in line with inflation, “being behind most comparable economies.”  

The Independent 24th MarchCovid: 10 most common symptoms to watch out for as UK cases rise

The virus still poses risks to the UK, NHS England warns. More than three years have passed since Covid-19 first reared its head. Health authorities are yet to declare the virus endemic – which would mean it is officially recognised as having a constant presence in the country. And though infection rates are nowhere near as high as when social distancing measures were enforced, cases are continuing to rise in some areas.

On Thursday – which marked the third anniversary of the first lockdown in March 2020 – NHS England announced it had now treated more than one million Covid patients since the pandemic began. “While we are in a very different situation today than we were three years ago, thanks largely to the speed and success of the NHS Covid vaccination program, we know the virus still poses risks,” chief strategy officer Chris Hopson told Sky News.

It is thought that about one in twenty people in the UK are currently infected with Covid, and there have now been more than 200,000 deaths with coronavirus recorded on the related death certificate. According to the most recent data, 26,185 people in England tested positive for Covid in the seven days up to and including 11 March – an increase of 6.5 per cent on the previous seven days.

Deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate are also on the rise – up by 1.8 per cent in the seven days to 17 February. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 people were admitted to hospital in the seven days up to and including 13 march – a marked increase of 12.2 per cent on the week prior.

What are the most common Covid symptoms?

According to the latest data from ZOE Health Study, the top symptoms reported by contributors with positive Covid tests are:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  •  Sneezing
  • Cough without phlegm
  • Headache
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle aches & pains
  • Altered sense of smell

According to the NHS, other common Covid symptoms include:

  • High temperature or shivering (chills)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling or being sick

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

Can you still get Covid vaccines and how?

Vaccines are readily available and jab appointments can be booked via the NHS website. Earlier in March, it was announced that those most at risk from coronavirus would be offered an extra booster dose this spring. The additional vaccine will be offered to:

  • Adults aged 75 years and over.
  • Residents in a care home for older adults.
  • Individuals aged five and over who are immunosuppressed.

Those eligible will be offered thee vaccine about six months after their previous dose. Scotland’s booster campaign will begin in the final week of March. Vaccinations in England and Wales will start in early April, with Northern Ireland’s roll-out from mid-April. People at higher risk from Covid are also expected to be offered a further booster vaccine dose in autumn 2023.

COVER Magazine 27th March – Two in three employees with Long Covid face workplace discrimination

Two thirds (66%) of employees with Long Covid have experienced unfair treatment at work, compared to just over half 52% in 2021, a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Long Covid Support Employment Group (LCSEG) found.

The number of people with self-reported symptoms of Long Covid jumped to 2 million as of 2 February, compared to 970,000 people in August last year, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The research by TUC and LCSEG surveyed 3,097 individuals with Long Covid in September and October 2022, and found that of the unfair treatment reported, 16% of respondents have been subjected to bullying and/or harassment at work and 8% have been threatened with disciplinary action. Meanwhile one in seven (14%) have lost their job due to Long Covid, nearly tripling from 5% in 2021.


ITV News 28th March – Satisfaction with the NHS drops to lowest ever level, survey shows

Public satisfaction with the NHS has dropped to its lowest ever level, according to a major new survey. Dissatisfaction with the service has doubled in the last two years as people struggle to access services and believe there are not enough staff to deliver high quality care. While the public stands unabashedly proud of the service and what it stands for, just over a quarter (29%) said they were satisfied with how the service runs, according to the 2022 British Social Attitudes survey.

This is the lowest level since the survey began in 1983 and a major drop since 2010 when 70% said they were satisfied with the NHS. Data from the poll of 3,362 people from England, Wales, and Scotland, analysed by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund think tanks, also show that overall dissatisfaction with the way the NHS is run increased to 51% – the highest level since the survey began. The figure has doubled in just two years, with dissatisfaction with the NHS recorded at 25% in 2020.

The top reasons for dissatisfaction were about funding, staffing and access to care – some 69% said it takes too long to get a GP or hospital appointment, 55% said that there are not enough NHS staff and 50% said the Government does not spend enough money on the NHS, according to the survey, which was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research in September and October 2022.

The results of the social care polling have already been released but also paint a worrying picture, with only 14% satisfied and 57% dissatisfied with how the social care service is run. Dissatisfaction with A&E services rose to 40% – the highest ever level since the question was first asked in 1989. Meanwhile, some 42% said they were dissatisfied with NHS dentistry. Just over a third (35%) said they were satisfied with GP services, the lowest level recorded.

Jessica Morris, report author and fellow at the Nuffield Trust, said: “The fact we have now recorded the lowest level of satisfaction with the NHS in the 40-year history of this gold standard survey is a warning siren. It is clear that the level of unhappiness amongst the British public over the way the NHS is running is going to take many years to recover.”

Dan Wellings, report author and senior fellow at The King’s Fund, added: “Even with satisfaction dropping to its lowest ever level, support for the founding principles of the NHS remains strong, however these results should ring loud, continuous alarm bells in the corridors of power”, adding: “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen in an NHS survey.”

Commenting, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “These sad but significant findings show the public’s frustration with the status quo around health and social care and should serve as a red flag to the Government as we head towards the NHS’s 75th birthday.”

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SCH April Health News

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