‘Plumbers should report UK’s deadly-cold homes’ – Say Health Watchdog

Articles in several of the press today saying that a health watchdog is asking for plumbers and boiler engineers to report cold homes to the council to slash winter deaths.

Around 25,000 extra brits – many elderly – die during the coldest months of the year.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence wants workmen to call for help if properties are too chilly.

Advisers will then tell residents how to access cheaper energy bills, benefits or free insulation.

Experts want all council Health and Wellbeing boards to set up helplines. Hospitals and care home must also not send sick Brits back to unheated properties.

Central HeatingNICE’s Prof Gillian Leng said: “We must stop the revolving-door scenario where people are made ill by living in a cold home, go into hospital, but are discharged back to the cold home.”

Neil Scholfield of the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council said Britain has the worst quality housing stock in the western world and eight million annual plumbing visits were a “massive opportunity to identify the vulnerable and direct them to help”.

Age UK says cold housing costs the NHS in England £1.36billion a year and many endure ill-health because they can’t afford heating.

“Can’t argue with this idea. Cheap to implement – cheap to run (I think?)”

Patients won’t get vital cancer drug on NHS

The first breakthrough drug for pancreatic cancer in 20 years will not be routinely available on the NHS.

Hundreds of patients with advanced disease will be denied Abraxane, which extends life by two months when there are virtually no other options.

Campaigners said draft guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the rationing watchdog for England, that the drug was not cost effective would leave patients in despair.

Ali Stunt, founder and chief executive of the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: ‘We are outraged by the decision.

“This is the first time NICE has looked at an effective treatment for the disease since 2001 and they have rejected it.

“There is real disparity between survival rates here, which have been unchanged for 40 years, and elsewhere in Europe, where patients survive twice as long.’

About 8,000 Britons are diagnosed annually with pancreatic cancer, which kills four in five sufferers within a year.

Tumours are hard to detect because the pancreas is buried deep in the body so symptoms emerge when the disease is at an advanced stage. An average course of treatment with the drug costs £5000.

Trial data shows that Abraxane and chemotherapy increases average survival by two months, but also increases the number of patients alive after two years.

Although NICE  says Abraxane should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS, it is currently available through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England – but the drug could also be axed from this fund as part of a cost-cutting review.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said Abraxane was more effective than one of the treatment options currently available, but was more expensive.

“Its like putting the latest treatments in an archive”

50% Cancer Patients Surviving 10 Years

Good News!. – Half of all cancer patients will now live for at least a decade after being diagnosed, a study has revealed.

The chances have increased dramatically since 1970s.

More than 70% now live for 10 years or more after learning they have cancers such as breast, prostrate and testicular.

But the study showed there has been little or no improvement in long-term survival rates for lung, brain, stomach, oesophagus and pancreatic cancer.

Co-author of the research Manuela Quaresma, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Although survival for some cancers has improved dramatically over the last 40 years, others are lagging far behind.

“More investment is urgently needed to improve early diagnosis and provide the best treatment, including more specialist surgeons, for poor prognosis cancers.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “It is encouraging to see there has been an increase in survival rates for most cancers in the last 40 years, however, it is deeply distressing that survival rates for lung cancer – the biggest cancer killer in the UK – continues to lag so far behind most other forms of the disease.

Today’s figures from the Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group show that the 10-year survival rate for breast cancer has jumped from 40% in the early 1970s to 78% now.

It has gone from 46% to 90% for those with melanoma.

But the figures, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, show that decade-long survival is only 5% for people with lung cancer and 14% for brain tumour patients.

The study looked at more than seven million people diagnosed with one of the 21 common cancers in England and Wales between 1971 and 2011.

“Good news and not so good news then!”

Dementia Risk From Diabetes

Diabetes in middle age can dramatically increase the risk of developing dementia, scientists have warned.

They say the disease causes the mind to age five years faster.

Research shows that middle-aged diabetes sufferrers are at an above-average risk of memory failure and cognitive problems over the following twenty years.

And declining memory, word recall, reasoning and problem solving are all associated with progressing to full blown dementia.

The study revealed that a 60-year-old with diabetes suffers deterioration in their memory to a level of a 65-year-old.

Experts warned people to eat well and exercise regularly to ensure their blood sugar level was under control by the age of 50 or run the risk of developing dementia at 70.

Study leader Dr Elizabeth Selvin of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said: “If we can do a better job at preventing and controlling diabetes we can prevent the progression of dementia.

“Even delaying dementia by a few years  could have a huge impact on the population from quality of life to health care costs.”

Dr Selvin an associate professor of epidemiology went on: ” There is a substantial cognitive decline associated with diabetes, pre-diabetes and poor glucose control in people who have diabetes.

“And we know how to prevent or delay the diabetes associated with this decline.”

The study, believed to be the longest of its kind, was launched in 1987 and followed a cross-section sample of 15,792 middle-aged adults in communities in Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota and Mississippi.

People were periodically tested for cognitive function, a report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine explained.

Researchers compared the amount of cognitive decline normally associated with ageing with the decline found in study participants.

They found there was 19 per cent  more decline than expected in participants with poorly controlled diabetes. There were also declines in those with controlled diabetes and pre-diabetes but these were smaller.

Dr Selvin said the results underscored the importance of weight control, exercise and a healthy diet.

Even just losing five to ten per cent of body weight can avert diabetes.

Diabetes leads to raised sugar levels in the blood. This can damage tissues and the vascular system throughout the body.

Research suggests there are many causes of dementia linked to abnormalities in blood vessels in the brain.

Co-author of the research Dr Richie Sharrat said: “There are many ways we can reduce the impact of cerebral blood vessel disease – by prevention or control of diabetes and hypertension, reduction in smoking, increase in exercise and improvements in diet.

‘Knowing that the risk for cognitive impairments begins with diabetes and other risk factors in mid-life can be a strong motivator for patients and their doctors to adopt and maintain long-term healthy practices.” The biggest risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being obese or overweight.

Diabetes UK figures show nine in ten sufferers need to lose weight. More than half of those with Type 2 diabetes are obese –  double the obesity rate in the general population. The condition is now a national emergency in the UK, with 3.2 million people diagnosed. Treatment takes up 10 per cent of the NHS budget.

Dr Laura Phipps, science communications manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study adds to a large body of evidence linking diabetes to thinking and memory problems in later life,.

“It suggests that controlling blood sugar levels in midlife may have long term benefits for our brain health.”

Dr Richard Elliot, Diabetes UK research communications manager said: “High blood glucose and Type 2 diabetes have already been linked to a higher risk of problems with memory and thinking, which can in turn lead to dementia in later life. This robust 20-year study adds to our understanding of that link.

“It suggests that people with higher blood glucose levels and people who have had diabetes for longer are at higher risk.

Long Term Memory Loss Via Surgery Anaesthetic

A general  anaesthetic before major surgery can cause long-term memory loss, claim researchers.

A Canadian study suggests memory cells which should only be blocked temporarily to facilitate an operation may never recover.

Until now, scientists have not understood why about a third of patients who undergo anaesthesia and surgery experience some kind of cognitive impairment including confusion and poor brain functioning following an operation.

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine Study showed anaesthetic drugs activate memory loss receptors in the brain to ensure patients don’t remember traumatic events during surgery. They found that there is still an effect on the receptors long after the drugs have been eliminated from the body. Animal studies showed this chain reaction has long-term effects on the performance of memory related tasks.

The team is now researching drugs that can stop the continuing impact on the receptors and restore memory loss.

University of Toronto’s Professor Beverley Orser said: “Anaesthetics don’t put you to sleep – they induce a pharmacological coma. We shouldn’t take these drugs lightly.

Hope. J Daily Mail. 5th October 2014. p. 5

Simpe Eye Test for Alzheimers

A simple eye test would be used to identify the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists believe warning signs for the illness could be detected in the eye and have developed computer software that can analyse high-definition images of its condition.

It is thought that changes in the pattern of ocular veins and arteries could be linked to conditions such as dementia, stroke and heart disease.

Emanuele Trucco, professor of computational vision at the University of Dundee, who is leading the three-year £1.1million project, said: “If you can look into someone’s eyes using an inexpensive machine and discover something which may suggest a risk of developing dementia, then that’s a very interesting proposition.

“There is the promise of early warning in a non-invasive way and we even might be able to use the test to differentiate between different types of dementia.’

The researchers, from Dundee and Edinburgh universities, will compare thousands of images from medical records to establish a link.

Professor Trucco said changes to blood vessels in the retina, for example when they change in width or become “wriggly”, can indicate a huge amount. But while taking measurements by hand is an arduous process the software – known as Vampire – takes them ‘reliably and efficiently’.

Philip Nelson, of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is funding the project, warned of the ‘huge challenge’ the UK faces with a rise in dementia diagnoses.

He added that the project, ‘will improve our abilities to detect and understand dementia.’

With an increase in medical knowledge and diminishing funding to deliver health services, the future will still be very bleak for many of our ageing population.

Guinea Pigs for New Drugs

Angela Wormald of the Daily Mirror has revealed patients could be treated with untested medicine from early next year after the Government backed a controversial new bill.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last night supported Lord Saatchi’s proposed Medical Innovation Bill, which has divide opinion amongst doctors.

If approved, it will allow victims of rare diseases to volunteer to be treated with experimental drugs.

Advertising boss Lord Saatchi, whose wife Josephine Hart died from ovarian cancer in June 2011, told the Daily Telegraph: “In dealing with the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation has decided a departure from evidence-based treatment is fully justified. It has set ethical guidelines for use of the new therapies.”

The bill will be debated in the Lords on Friday.

Thousands Dying due to NHS Errors

The Health Secretary has said that thousands of hospital patients are dying needlessly because of mistakes in care costing the National Health Service billions of pounds in damages.

Jeremy Hunt, in a speech in the US will reveal plans to cut the NHS bungles by half and save 6,000 lives over the next three years.

The minister wants, “a more open, compassionate and transparent culture” in the NHS following the Stafford Hospital scandal.

The Government is to introduce a Duty of Candour. ensuring hospitals tell patients about their errors.

With the aging population and pressure on services this will be a tall order to implement. Patients don’t have one doctor taking charge of their care and nursing staff have very little time for empathy. The feeling comes to mind that it’s just  going to be more forms and paperwork. It would interesting to know the statistics for patients discharged and end up back again after being told they are fit to go home.

This also has a knock on effect as it’s more pressure on GP’s. The health service has been losing it’s way for years through lack of consistency.

Mobility Scooter Insurance – Should it Be Compulsory? Government Petition Launched

Mobility scooter insurance, although greatly recommended, is still an optional extra in the UK. As with many optional extras, many scooter users decide to forgo the expense of insurance, often to their detriment.

With stories of theft, vandalism and accidents involving mobility scooters an almost daily occurrence at the moment, online mobility equipment resource Help My Mobility decided to petition the government to make scooter insurance a legal requirement in Britain.

Help My Mobility’s director, Jason Tate, explains why;
“A mobility scooter accident or theft is always going to cause a great deal of anguish and misery, but that anguish and misery is increased when the party involved is uninsured,” he said.

“It’s not unheard of for people to lose their homes due to legal costs after a collision, and stories of people being left housebound after the theft or vandalism of their scooter are all too common in the UK. This is why we feel that compulsory mobility scooter cover is a must.”

The petition follows on from a poll, hosted on the Help My Mobility site, which gauged popular opinion of mobility scooter insurance. Of 231 people surveyed, 71% said that they were in favour of compulsory scooter insurance.

To view the petition and to lend your support by signing, visit http://www.help-my-mobility.org/mobility-scooters/insurance-government-petition.htm

Your comments and thoughts on this issue would also be much appreciated.

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