January Health News
Health News – January 2023
2 January 2023
Surrey Circle Health – March Health News
Health News – March 2023
9 March 2023
Surrey Circle Health – February Health News

Trusting that you’re keeping well, swerving or recovering from this winter’s deluge of viral lurgies. Perhaps you’ve been able to get away for some much deserved winter sun, recharging the ‘batteries’, whilst bolstering the immune system? As the days are slowly but surely getting longer you may be hankering for those warmer bright spring days just around the corner! As is continually ‘front & foremost’ in the media these days I didn’t have to search far for some absorbing articles again this month, which I hope that you herein enjoy –

4th INDEPENDENT – Covid: NewXBB.1.5 variant will drive next wave of virus in UK, experts warn

The “highly infectious” XBB.1.5 Covid subvariant will drive the next wave of the virus in the UK and its rapid spread in other countries should be a “wake-up call”, experts have warned. The strain has caused a surge of cases in the US, with some experts concerned that its mutations could see it trigger a similar spike in the UK by dodging the wall of immunity built up from previous waves and vaccine rollouts.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said it was urgently evaluating the risk from the variant. “Our concern is how transmissible it is,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the agency’s technical lead on Covid. “The more this virus circulates, the more chances it will have to change.” The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that XBB.1.5 has more than doubled its share of Covid cases weekly for a month, rising from 4 per cent to 41 per cent of new infections in December. In the northeast of the US, the CDC estimates, XBB.1.5 is behind 75 per cent of new cases.

Sanger Institute data, based on hundreds of samples, shows 4.3 per cent of cases in England in the week to 17 December were caused by XBB.1.5 and experts say the UK is “not at all prepared for another wave” if the subvariant continues to spread at pace. Professor Christina Pagel, a member of Independent Sage, a group of scientists working together to give advice to the government, told The Independent that the rapidly spreading variant was both immunosuppressive and highly transmissible – a combination that means it is prime to become dominant in the next wave this winter. “There are no signs it’s (XBB.1.5) more virulent or that it causes more sever illness but it’s the most immunoevasive one so far and its also very transmissible,” Prof Pagel said.

“Some of the other Omicron variants have become more immune evasive at the cost of becoming less transmissible but this is more immunoevasive and as transmissible so I’m pretty sure it will drive a new wave quite soon.” Questions were raised about the UK’s ability to cope with the nation’s testing needs for new variants after the government wound down labs last year as part of its plan to “live with Covid”, Only Britain’s flagship Rosalind Franklin Covid Laboratory, in Leamington Spa, remains. Months later and with a new variant now on the rise, Prof Pagel said the UK’s lack of testing ability had left it unable to identify new variants quickly, in addition to having a significantly smaller sample size to analyse.

11th The Mirror Nurse burnt out after year working in NHS now makes more money serving ice cream

Mailu Turner, who qualified as a mental health nurse in September 2021, has told how she quit her job in the NHS due to stress from the conditions and now earns more working in an ice cream parlour. Mailu claims she was soon left in charge of up to 16 patients – reportedly more than double the recommended ratio set out by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The 22-year-old, who worked for Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Foundation Trust, claims she would regularly feel ‘very stressed’ and often finish her shift hours late as there were no other nurses to take over. When she complained, she says she was told “you’re young, you can handle it”, but regularly feared a mistake would lead to her harming patients and putting her career in jeopardy.

And just a year after qualifying, Mailu quit her job and moved to Melbourne, Australia, where she now works as an ice-cream café assistant making £17 an hour – which she says is almost £4 more than her hourly rate as a nurse. Mailu claims she feels “cheated” and “sad” that after investing so much “time, effort and money” in training as she makes more money serving sundaes.

Since passing her preceptorship in January 2022, meaning that she was able to work alone, over the following nine months Mailu claims when she raised her concerns about poor staffing levels was told: “Where do you want me to pull staff from?” She claims that on many occasions she was concerned about the safety of her patients and the shifts were becoming more hectic, without another nurse with her to help her through her shift.

She fears for her nursing friends as she says, “nothing is changing.” Mailu said: “I’m a bit sad if I’m honest. I feel sad. I miss my job, I miss caring for people and when I found out what I was getting paid at the ice cream shop I felt like an idiot for putting in all the effort, time and money to train. I can’t wait to be a nurse here in Australia and see the massive difference. “It’s $44 AUD an hour – the equivalent of about £25 an hour. That’s £10 more an hour than the UK and that’s just the standard rate.”

15th Sky News – NHS waiting lists are a ‘national scandal’, British Medical Association chairman says

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Professor Philip Banfield, the chairman of the British Medical Association, said that the health service now had half the beds for patients it had 30 years ago and described the situation for frontline staff as “brutal.” “Our members have never seen so much stress, so much moral injury from not being able to undertake the care that they’re so desperate to give”, he said.

“This has arisen because we just don’t have enough beds for hospital needs. Part of that is not being able to discharge people from hospital and that creates a kind of logjam. But this is years and years of running down the number of beds. What the pandemic has done is aggravate a situation that was deteriorating, and we have been highlighting for ten years or more so if you look at the waiting list the figures had gone from 2.6 to 4.4 million before the pandemic. It has gone over seven million now. This is an absolute national scandal.”

Discussing whether doctors would join nurses and ambulance workers on the picket lines, Professor Banfield said it was “not inevitable”. “For me it’s a very straightforward market economics argument. Doctors are leaving the NHS. They’ve got choice, these are bright young graduates; their entry pay is just over £14 an hour. Full pay restoration for them means £18 an hour. We have to decide as a country what the price is for the expertise of junior doctors. Junior doctors are not junior by any means, these are skilled, highly trained professionals.

21st Reuters UK – China says COVID outbreak has infected 80% of population

Beijing (Reuters) – The possibility of a big COVID-19 rebound in China over the next two or three is remote as 80% of people have been infected, a prominent government scientist said on Saturday. The mass movement of people during the ongoing Lunar New Year holiday period may spread the pandemic, boosting infections in some areas, but a second COVID wave is unlikely in the near term, Wu Zun-you, chief epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the Weibo social media platform.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese are travelling across the country for holiday reunions that had been suspended under recently eased COVID curbs, raising fears of fresh outbreaks in rural areas less equipped to manage large outbreaks.

China has passed the peak of COVID patients in fever clinics, emergency rooms and with critical conditions, a National Health Commission official said on Thursday. Nearly 60,000 people with COVID had died in hospital as of Jan.12, roughly a month after China abruptly ended its zero-COVID policy, according to government data. But some experts said that figure probably vastly undercounts the full impact, as it excludes those who die at home, and because many doctors have said they are discouraged from citing COVID as a cause of death.

24th Evening Standard – Deaths nearly 20% higher than normal amid NHS crisis

Fatalities were 19.5 per cent higher than the 5-year average in week up to January 13 in England and Wales, new figures reveal, amid an ongoing crisis in NHS care. A total of 17,381 fatalities were recorded in the week to January 13, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). There were 922 deaths involving Covid-19 during this time period, up by 24 per cent on the previous week. The deaths recorded in private homes was almost a third (31.5 per cent) above average and 11.1 per cent higher than normal in hospitals. Deaths were also 27.6 per cent higher in care homes and 12 per cent higher in other settings.

It comes as health experts warned that delays to emergency treatment could be behind the higher excess death toll in the UK. Earlier this month, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned that delays to emergency care could be causing as many as 500 deaths per week, a figure disputed by NHS bosses. Nearly 100,000 Londoners waited over 12 hours for treatment in A&E last month – the highest figure on record. And a total of 5,196 people with an “emergency” condition, such as stroke or heart attack, waited more than three hours for an ambulance in London during this time period.

Hospitals in London are facing their worst ever winter crisis amid a surge in flu cases, which the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) described as the worst flu season for a decade.Deaths due to flu and pneumonia accounted for nearly one in 10 of all deaths registered in England and Wales, the highest proportion since before the pandemic.

27th The Mirror – Worst GP surgeries for getting a face-to-face appointment – see how yours ranks

A total of 26.8 million appointments were made at doctor surgeries in December and of these, 68% of appointments were in person (18.3 million), while 7.4 million (28%) took place over the phone. However, according to the data, fewer than one in five appointments at some practises were classed as being face-to-face.

Surgeries with 25% or fewer face-to-face appointments in England –

  • Babylon GP at Hand Birmingham (NHS NW London): 5%
  • Sel Special Allocation Practise (NHS SE London): 9%
  • Ashburnham Road Surgery (NHS Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes): 14%
  • GP at Hand (NHS NW London): 18%
  • Roman Way Medical Centre (NHS NC London): 20%
  • QHS GP Care Home Service (NHS SE London): 20%
  • Addison House – Haque Practise (NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex): 21%
  • Barlborough Medical Practise (NHS Derby & Derbyshire): 23%
  • Dr. Sood’s Practise (NHS NW London): 23%
  • Sandringham Medical Practise (NHS Cheshire & Merseyside): 23%
  • Bath Road Surgery (NHS NW London): 24%
  • Wimbledon Village Practise (NHS SW London): 24%
  • Fountains Medical Practise (NHS Cheshire & Merseyside): 24%
  • Shifa Medical Practise (NHS NE London): 24%
  • Hornspit Medical Centre (NHS Cheshire & Merseyside): 25%
  • Grove Surgery (NHS NE London): 25%

30th The Telegraph – Nearly half-a-million take out private health insurance in 2022 as NHS crisis deepens

Bupa, Aviva and Vitality, three of the largest insurers in the UK, have collectively added 480,000 new customers since the beginning of 2022, according to data shared by the companies with The Telegraph. Long waiting lists and “uncertainty about when procedures will take place would certainly seem to be influencing people’s decision to plan for private care”, said the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), which tracks the performance of the sector.

NHS Pressures a ‘significant driver’

Aviva also said that “concerns regarding the pressures on the NHS post Covid-19 are definitely a significant driver” behind the rise in new customers. The NHS has faced mounting strain over the past 12 months, with hospitals and health services pushed to the brink by record-breaking waiting lists, staff and bed shortages, and concurrent waves of respiratory infections. Britain’s underfunded social-care sector is equally struggling to cope with a nationwide surge in demand, making it harder for hospitals to discharge patients into the community to continue their care. The latest figures show that almost 2,500 more people died than expected in the week to Dec 23 – the highest number of excess deaths since Feb 2021, which was the deadliest period of the pandemic.

Turning their back on NHS

Against this backdrop, hundreds of thousands of patients have turned their back on the NHS in favour of private healthcare. Aviva said it covered 100,000 new customers with private medical insurance between Dec 2021 and Dec 2022, taking its national tally to 1.1 million. “We have noted many individuals considering private health insurance for the first time, including significant interest from younger age groups who traditionally would not have viewed private health insurance as a priority”, a spokesperson for the insurer added. “We are also seeing improved retention rates as individuals and employers are prioritising keeping their valuable healthcare cover in place.”

Between Dec 2021 and June 2022, Bupa also added 100,000 new customers, taking its total to 2.4 million. A spokesperson said the “overall trends” seen in the first half of last year “continued throughout 2022”.

Strong demand

And VitalityHealth told The Telegraph that “over 900,000 people are now covered by Vitality health insurance, which is around a 20 per cent increase over the past year” – equivalent to 180,000. “We have continued to see strong demand for health insurance”, a spokesperson for the company said.

While some of the new customers will have been granted insurance as part of a benefits package at a new job, many are people who have taken out policies independently.

*****************

Trusting that you enjoyed those 7 articles from the past month, as we all get more fully engaged with our secular responsibilities as memories of seasonal breaks fading more into the middle-distance. Seeing my first crocus having popped up today, it’s always great to see the budding indicators of spring growth and renewal. Until March please continue to stay safe, warm and well.

Take care,

Kind regards
Daniel Donoghue

MD of Surrey Circle Health

Specialist Whole of Market Private Healthcare Broker

Surrey Circle Health – February Health News

Comments are closed.