September health
Health News – September 2022
6 September 2022
November Health News
Health News – November 2022
2 November 2022

Welcome to September’s Health News dear reader, trusting that you remain fit and well. With a month that signalled the end of the UK Monarch’s incredible nine and a half decades long life, please look out for the healthy living tips summed up in this month’s edition –

1st Sept – COVER Mag ‘Cases of self-reported Long Covid returns to 2 million mark’

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show levels of self-reported Long Covid symptoms have returned to those previously recorded at the start of May.

Data published on 1 September shows that 2 million people in private households throughout the UK self-reported symptoms of Long Covid persisting over four weeks as of 31 July, representing 3.1% of the total UK population. The latest data represents an 11% increase in self-reported symptoms month-on-month, after a lull between June and July to 1.8 million cases.

15th Sept – itv NEWS ‘Damning Lancet Commission report criticises WHO and world leaders’ response to Covid pandemic’

Leading medical journal, The Lancet has published a damning report criticising the global response to the Covid pandemic.

The Lancet Commission’s final report on the handling of the pandemic heaps criticism on both the world’s governments’ responses, and the reaction time of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its report also sets out goals to future catastrophes. The report estimated a “staggering death toll” of 17.2 million worldwide and condemned the “profound tragedy and a massive global failure at multiple levels.”

Data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) records more than 7.3 million reported Covid death. However, it estimates that the true death toll stands at more than 18 million. The IMHE takes into account unreported deaths using data from a variety of sources and takes into account that some region’s reported numbers are subject to frequent revision.

Key findings of the Lancet Commission’s report –

The Lancet Commission’s report also criticises both a lack of coordination and willingness to share vaccine knowledge, finance, and technology. In its fourth and final statement on Covid, the Commission focussed on scientific policy, global cooperation, and recommendations to avoid future catastrophes rather than health impacts. Its report said governments “failed to adhere to basic norms of institutional rationality and transparency.” The report refers numerous times to “costly delays” and that “most countries lack meaningful pandemic preparedness plans.”

A slow start in recognising Covid’s airborne transmission, distributing protective equipment, and an over-reliance on “heavily burdened groups” such as key workers were also scrutinised. The report also highlighted disparity in the help made available for low-income and middle-income countries, with a lack of notification of the initial outbreak in appropriate time. Its author noted countries with experience of dealing with SARS outbreaks, such as South Korea, fared better initially because of that experience. The reports added that in some countries mistrust of the government, and some groups’ opposition to health measures like mask-wearing and vaccination, hindered efforts.

On a wider scale, the Commission predicted that global sustainable development goals will be delayed as a direct result of Covid, as will the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Criticism of the World Health Organisation –

The report also criticised the WHO for a slow reaction at a critical time to stop the spread of the virus early in 2020. It says the WHO acted too cautiously on its advice on international travel rules and advocating the use of face masks. To help identify future infectious diseases, it asked for the WHO’s ranks to be strengthened with more representation, rotation, and gender balance at the top – with a budget increase also suggested. The WHO responded to the claims saying that while it welcomes the report, it contains “several key omissions and misinterpretations” of the organisation’s work.

Experts still searching for the origin of the virus –

The exact origin of Covid-19 is still unknown. Its thought to either have originated from wildlife in a wet market, or a “research-related incident.” On finding the source, the report says research “requires unbiased, independent, transparent, and rigorous work by international teams.” It comes as the WHO said it believes that the end of pandemic is “in sight.” The WHO said weekly deaths from Covid worldwide have sunk to the lowest level since March 2020 – the month the UK first went into lockdown.

WHO’s director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “We can see the finishing line, we’re in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running.”

15th Sept – The Mirror ‘Veteran nurse’s heartbreak as colleagues forced to quit due to stress in ‘broken NHS’ ‘

June Ramsey, 55, has worked as an NHS nurse for 35 years, currently working at the Queen Elizabeth in Glasgow, but after decades inside the health service she has been left “terrified” at how nurses are being increasingly burned out and worn down by the worsening pressures of the job.

Fearing for the future of the NHS, she says “I feel as though the health service is about to break. If it isn’t broken already.”

Ms. Ramsay’s heart-breaking confessions comes after a Royal College of Nurses ‘shift survey report’ highlights the shocking staffing shortages and immense pressures faced in the NHS. “When I started in nursing 35 years ago, I never left a shift feeling like I didn’t care for a patient.” – Ms. Ramsay said, speaking in her capacity as an RCN member. “The last 4-5 years I leave most shifts feeling like I let my patients down, I let relatives down, buzzers are going in the ward 24/7 practically, I’ve seen a single registered nurse with some support left with 28 patients. It’s just demoralising. We just cannot provide care in any shape or form for the patients that we should be able to.”

The issue, she said, isn’t of managers not providing, or staff failing at their job, it is of nurses and doctors and everyone else being unable to provide the level of care they should, despite everyone pulling in the same direction. She said that today she would find herself and other nurses had no time to take patients to go to the toilet, get then their painkillers quickly, or do a whole host of other simple, but important, tasks that she once was able to get done. It didn’t stop there however, two colleagues of Ms. Ramsay’s who she worked with for decades both recently quit and left the health service after they found the growing pressures on them too much to handle.

The exodus of nurses however is not a local issue, but one facing the NHS nationally. At the RCN ‘Congress’ in Glasgow taking place this week, General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen warned: “Nursing staff are being driven out by the current way of working – the shortage of staff and too often the poor culture.” She went on: “We’re tired, fed up, demoralised, and some of us are leaving the profession because we’ve lost hope.”

This is sadly common amongst all nurses in the NHS currently. The RCN’s new report found that nearly six in ten of nurses (59 per cent) felt upset or sad that they couldn’t provide the level of care they wanted when surveyed. Over half (51 per cent) felt demoralised on their last shift. Ms. Ramsay said that she was seeing vacancies not being taken up, and nursing shifts not being filled up. Alongside that, she said she was seeing nurses increasingly go to less intensive and pressured areas, away from A&E. RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen continued: “These results (of the report) speak for themselves. The risk to patients, to services and to health and care staff is simply unacceptable. The complacency from governments across the UK is unacceptable. Our members are nursing under unsustainable pressure, and governments are risking lives by failing to take urgent action. Together, we’re determined to use our position as the leading voice of nursing to be the greatest champion of high-quality patient care.

23rd Sept – Metro ‘GP numbers falling as Coffrey adds new targets’

The number of permanent GPs working in England has dropped year-on-year for the third month in a row, NHS figures show.

A total of 26,822 full-time GPs were recorded at the end of August, down 0.5 per cent from falls in June and July.

Health and Social Care secretary Therese Coffrey has announced plans for GPs in England to offer non-urgent appointments within two weeks. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It is not more targets, the NHS needs, it is more doctors.”

28th Sept – BBC News ‘Flu and Covid could make this a hard winter for UK’

The UK must prepare for a big, early wave of flu, based on what Australia has just experienced during its winter. Many southern hemisphere countries have had their most rampant flu season for years. It is largely because people mixed more once Covid restrictions had eased, but had little immunity to the influenza virus after a break from the disease.

Health experts are urging anyone who is eligible for a flu-shot to get one. After two years with almost zero flu circulating – and all the focus on Covid jabs – there is concern that vaccine fatigue may have set in. Covid cases are starting to rise again in the UK too.

‘Autumn Wave’

UK Health Security Agency chief medical adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins told BBC News that Covid cases “looked like they were turning in all four nations in the UK.” “We do believe we are starting to see our autumn wave of Covid” she said.

NHS director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russel said: “This winter could be the first time we see the effects of the so called ‘twindemic’ with both Covid and flu in full circulation, so it is vital that those most susceptible to serious illness from these viruses come forward for vaccines in order to protect themselves and those around them.” The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says this year’s flu jab is a good jab is a good match for the type of seasonal influenza that is circulating – a strain called H3N2.

In Australia, which had a reasonably severe flu season during its winter, the jab was well matched to that strain. It is the same one that caused a bad flu season for the UK in 2017-18. The number of excess deaths that winter in England and Wales exceeded 50,000 – the highest recorded since the winter of 1975-76 – with around 22,000 thought to be associated with the flu.

Get booster jab

Vaccination can help prevent people getting very sick, and the NHS is offering free flu shots to about 33 million people in the UK this autumn. About 26 million people are also eligible for a free Covid booster to top up their immunity. Covid and flu vaccines are recommended for those at higher risk of illness, which includes:

  • Everyone over 50
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain underlying health conditions
  • Care-home residents
  • Front-line health and social care workers

The UK is using an updated vaccine for the Covid booster, targeting both the original and the Omicron version of the pandemic virus. It is safe to receive the flu shot at the same appointment.

Meanwhile, all primary school children and some secondary school children, as well as youngsters aged two or three, can get a free nasal spray flu vaccine. Most young children will not have encountered flu yet. This means they will not have built up any natural immunity to this virus, so it is particularly important for them to take up the flu vaccine this year, say experts.

Dr. Hopkins said: “I am more worried about flu than I have been for the last few years because of the reduction of immunity that is around.” She said there were “strong indications” that the UK could face the threat of widely circulating flu along with new Covid variants that might evade the immune response. “This combination poses a serious risk to our health, particularly those in high-risk groups. So, if you are offered a jab, please come forward to protect yourself.”

GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu vaccine in batches throughout the flu season. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book one for when more vaccines are available.

29th Sept – COVER: Bupa ‘One in three employees want health insurance as a benefit’

Health insurance has been ranked as the most sought-after employee benefit as the UK continues to face a cost-of-living crises, according to Bupa.

The latest Bupa Wellbeing Index, which surveys 8,000 UK adults, found that 39% of respondents want health insurance as a benefit, behind only flexible working (53%) and a company pension scheme (46%). Other benefits which were considered equally as important were employee discounts (36%) and free lunches (25%), reflecting the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on employees, according to Bupa.

30th Sept – Metro ‘COVID hospital admissions are at their highest level in six weeks’

In total, 7,024 people were onwards in England on Wednesday. That is up 37 per cent week-on-week and the highest figure since August 19. Prof Tim Spector, of the ZOE Health Study, said: ‘It’s clear we’re seeing an autumn wave of Covid.’

30th Sept – London Evening Standard ‘Tips to boost your immunity ahead of Covid and flu ‘twindemic’ expected to hit UK’

Brits are being urged to get their flu and Covid vaccinations as soon as possible over fears a winter “twindemic” poses a significant risk to the public. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) officials are concerned that the major wave of coronavirus that is already building will coincide with flu infections in the coming months.

While Covid restrictions kept influenza at extremely low levels in the past three years, the return to almost pre-pandemic levels of mixing in the UK means the virus is ripe to bounce back this season, when immunity in the population is low. Health experts are particularly concerned about the H3N2 flu strain, which caused influenza to return early to Australia. H3N2 can lead to more severe illness than other flu strains. It was the cause of the UK’s most recent severe flu season in 2017-18. Which resulted in around 22,000 additional deaths and twice as many hospital admissions. Alongside the vaccines, what can you do to boost your immunity?

The gut plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. If you provide your digestive system with an ideal habitat and plenty of nutrients, in turn, the gut helps train and shape the immune system. Having a healthy diet, rich in plants and gut-friendly fermented foods, as well as probiotics, can help fight infection at a faster rate.

Of course, diet alone does not necessarily mean a person will have a strong immune system that can fight off covid and other illnesses. As well as a high-quality diet, your immune system can be strengthened by exercise and good-quality sleep. Cutting back on alcohol and quitting smoking can also do wonders. And, this one almost goes without saying but regular handwashing is one of the best things you can do for your immune system, as it eliminates the chances of infection.

How does the immune system work?

Your immune system protects your body from pathogens, like dangerous bacteria and viruses, that pose a threat to your health. It can spring into action to defend you from pathogens, releasing antibodies to fight them.

Over time, antibodies fade, but the memory of the original pathogen endures. Identical copies of these antibodies will be mass-produced in the event of a future infection, meaning your body will be primed able to fight it off if it comes into contact with the same infection again.

I trust that you enjoyed reading that eight-article jammed-packed Health News as much as I did summarizing it. Further to that last article, as an extra health tip to help boost the immune system and ward off seasonal colds and flus, I find that a dose of Vitamin C just before you rest your head on the pillow at night, (rather than in the morning) works wonders this time of year. (And indeed, all year round!) Until November please stay safe, warm, and well.

Kind Regards

Daniel Donoghue

Managing Director

Surrey Circle Health

Whole of Market Specialist Healthcare Brokers

October Health News

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