07 January 2019

Lung cancer in women on the rise, claims Irish Cancer Society

  • The amount of women contracting lung cancer is on the rise and it could outnumber the amount of men in the coming year, according to the Irish Cancer Society.

    In its annual lung cancer awareness campaign, the society claimed lung cancer cases in women could far outnumber men in future decades. 

    A spokeswomen for the charity, Aoife McNamara, said that knowing signs and symptoms of the disease is vital, telling the Irish Examiner: "Things like difficulty breathing, a cough that's not going away or a change in a long-term cough, repeated chest infections that just aren't going away - even after antibiotics.

    "Wheezing, coughing up blood-stained phlegm, pains in your chest...anything to with your breathing.

    "There's lots of coughs and colds and flus out there at the moment.

    "But what we are asking people to notice that if these things aren't going away, particularly if you are a smoker or ex-smoker, go to your GP and get checked out."

    For more Insights, click here. 

07 January 2019

What's in store for the NHS, according to the new long-term plan?

  • Earlier today, Prime Minister Theresa May and NHS England's  Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, published a new long-term plan for the health service, which they claim could save an "additional 500,000 lives by 2029".

    The prime minister asked for the plan to be drawn up when she unveiled extra funding for the health service in the summer to mark its 70 year anniversary. 

    The budget will grow by £20bn a year by 2023.

    In an article authored by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, earlier today for The Times, he addressed the new plan, which only applies to the NHS in England:

    "The NHS is rightly one of this country’s proudest achievements. Over a million people rely on its services every day.

    "Yet the numbers are rising and our aging population presents a challenge. We’re rising to that challenge with £20.5 billion and a plan to get the most from it.

    "Today’s NHS Long-Term Plan is focused on the idea that prevention is better than cure. It is a comprehensive set of proposals to ensure the NHS does not just meet this challenge but secures the NHS for future generations.

    The plan is the product of thousands of conversations with clinicians, patients and the public right across the country to focus on the priorities that matter to us all."

    How will the money be spent?

    Mental health is due to receive £2.3bn extra of the £20bn, while GP and community care are to get £4.5bn.

    NHS England said that will help pay for:

    • Mental health support in schools and 24-hour access to mental health crisis care via the NHS 111 service
    • Extra support in the community so patients can be discharged quickly from hospital
    • Digital access to health services, including online GP booking
    • Healthy living programmes for patients struggling with ill-health
    • New testing centres for cancer patients to ensure earlier diagnosis
    • DNA testing for children with cancer and those with rare genetic disorders to help select the best treatment.

    The other UK nations are drawing up their own plans. Under the government's funding system they are getting an extra £4bn between them by 2023.

    While areas of the NHS look set to improve in light of the NHS long-term plan, some critics are unimpressed that an equivalent long-term plan has not been devised for the social care sector. 

    The King's Fund, an independent charity working to improve health and care in England, released the following statement: 

    "The NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin, yet publication of the social care Green Paper has been delayed yet again. And while commitments for the NHS to do more promote public health are welcome, cuts to local government funding for public health services underline the need for a more consistent approach across government to the population’s health."

    Richard Humphries, who describes himself in his Twitter description as "Senior Fellow The King's Fund; Visiting Professor University of Worcester; SCIE Associate. NED of NHS Trust" tweeted: 

    "Deeply disappointing Government has been unable to deliver a joined-up plan for NHS & #socialcare - they are interdependent. #NHSlongtermplan won’t work without sorting social care. Integration message seems to be ‘do as we say, not as we do”.

    UK charity, Carers Trust, was also quick to express their disappointment on the social media site:

    "Disappointed the #NHSLongTermPlan has not been released alongside the still delayed Social Care Green Paper. Social care and support for #carers is vital if the NHS plan to prioritise out of hospital services is to succeed."

    Social care

    Matt Hancock has promised that the “well developed” Social Care Green Paper will be published in the coming weeks. 

    What do you think about the NHS long-term plan? Would the social care sector benefit from a similar ten-year plan? Let us know by commenting, or tweet us @NewcrossHealth 

    Source: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/

07 January 2019

A drinkable drug may reverse the effects of Alzheimer's, study indicates

  • Researchers in the US have identified a drinkable cocktail that interferes with a crucial first step of Alzheimer’s disease and has proven to restore memory function in mice.

    Stephen Strittmatter, professor of neurology and of neuroscience, and director of the Yale University Alzheimer Disease Research Centre said: “We wanted to find molecules that might have a therapeutic effect on this network."

    Strittmatter and research scientist Erik Gunther screened tens of thousands of compounds looking for molecules that might interfere with the damaging prion protein interaction with amyloid beta.

    As reported in Cell Reports, an old antibiotic, called Suprax, looked like a promising candidate but was only active after decomposing to form a polymer. Related small polymers retained the benefit and also managed to pass through the blood-brain barrier. They discovered that synapses in the brains of the mice were repaired and lost memory was recovered. 

    A collaborating team at Dartmouth University reported a positive response when they delivered the same cocktail to cells modeled to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a devastating neurological condition.

    Dr. James Pickett, from Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are looking into whether diabetes and arthritis treatments could benefit people with dementia, so it’s fascinating that something based on antibiotics could too."

    Grants from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Falk Medical Research Trust to Strittmatter funded this research. 

    The next step is to confirm that the compound is not toxic before human trials can commence.

    Sources:

    Yale University

    https://www.spring.org.uk/2019/01/drug-reverse-alzheimers.php

04 January 2019

Is obesity a medical condition or a lifestyle choice?

  • The gloves are off, as health experts are debating whether obesity ought to be recognised as a disease, rather than a lifestyle choice.

    Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "It is important to the health of the nation that we remove the stigma associated with obesity.

    1 in 4 adults are obese, along with 1 in 5 children leaving primary school.

    "It is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed, but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences, and social factors.

    "It is governments, not individuals, which can have an impact on the food environment through regulation and taxation, and by controlling availability and affordability.

    "Governments can also promote physical activity by ensuring that facilities are available to local communities, and through legislation and public health initiatives."

    However, David Buck from the health think tank, The Kings Fund, argued: "I do think this could have dangerous consequences.

    "Obesity isn't a disease, it's a condition, an outcome. I am slightly overweight, according to government statistics, but I don't see myself as suffering from a disease. It's because of the environment I live in, the choices I make. It's a condition, not a disease, I don't buy that at all."

    The debate follows the news that Public Health England officials are lobbying for a "pudding tax" against companies that fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their food products. 

    What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a medical condition or is it a lifestyle choice? 

     

     

04 January 2019

Flu levels are moderate, Public Health England warns

  •  

    The latest Public Health England (PHE) report published at 2pm on Thursday 3rd January 2019, indicates that influenza is starting to circulate in the community and is at moderate levels. 

    The statistics show that over the last week, the flu hospitalisation and intensive care admission rates have both increased from 1.06 to 1.96 per 100,000, and from 0.19 to 0.29 per 100,000 respectively.

    Richard Pebody, Head of Flu at Public Health England said:

    "We have seen a rise in several of the flu indicators we track in the last week which suggests flu is now circulating in the community in England.

    "This year, we’ve offered a more effective ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine to those aged 65 years and over; a ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine, which helps protect against four strains of flu, to those aged 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions, and further roll-out of the nasal spray vaccine to an extra school year, as part of the children’s flu vaccine programme.

    "Uptake of the flu vaccine in pre-school age children is at its highest ever level, and rates of vaccination among eligible adults are similar to recent seasons. We are currently seeing mainly A(H1N1)pdm09 circulating which is well matched to the strains in this year’s flu vaccines.

    The best form of protection against flu is to get the vaccine if you are eligible and to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene."

    The weekly national flu reports track seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses in the UK. Currently, 69.7% of adults over 65, 44.7% of adults with a long-term health condition, 43.6% of pregnant women, 43.0% of 3-year-olds, 41.5% of 2-year-olds and 61.0% of healthcare workers have received the vaccine.

    To read about the five flu jab myths you should be ignoring, click here. 

03 January 2019

Millions failing to take free health check that could spot dementia

  • NHS England is urging people over the age of 40 to make a New Year’s resolution to take up a free health check, that may help to identify dementia early. 

    Fewer than half of eligible people in England have taken up the offer over the last five years, despite it being free for people between 40 and 74-years-old.

    The 20-minute assessment, carried out by a GP or nurse, involves testing blood pressure, weight and height and could stop people developing physical conditions as well as dementia.

    Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia and older people’s mental health for NHS England said: “Heart disease and dementia are two of the biggest health risks facing people in our country and the national health check will help stop both.

    “Attending a free NHS health check is a great opportunity to discuss existing health conditions, and to work out how to reduce the risk of developing dementia and other illness in the future.”

    According to NHS England, identifying people with an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure and giving them treatment would help to prevent dangerous blood clots which could lead to strokes.

    Similarly, if more people went for their health check, the number of people having a stroke or other heart problems would reduce, potentially preventing thousands of cases of vascular dementia.

    Laura Phipps, head of communications at Alzheimer's Research UK said: “There is good evidence to suggest that what's good for the heart is also good for the brain, but while 77 percent people believe they can reduce their risk of heart disease, only 34 percent of people know they can reduce their risk of dementia.

    “Research shows that midlife is a crucial time to take action that will help maintain a healthy brain into later life. With dementia now the UK's leading cause of death, we must encourage everyone to take positive steps to maintain good brain health throughout life and into older age.”

    NHS health checks are offered to all individuals aged between 40 and 74 with no pre-existing health conditions. They are provided every five years.

    For more information go to www.nhs.uk

03 January 2019

Is the UK's sweet tooth about to be hit by a "pudding tax"?

  • Public Health England (PHE) has called for the introduction of a “pudding tax” on companies if they fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their food products. 

    In May 2018, progress against the first-year sugar reduction ambition of 5% was published, which showed an average of only 2% reduction in sugar across categories for retailers and manufacturers.

    Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:

    Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years. To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution – by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”

    PHE said the recommended daily maximum amount of sugar for children aged four to six is 19g, or five cubes. For those aged seven to 10, the figure rises to 24, and then to 30g for children 11 and over. But in the UK, children are consuming some 13 cubes (52g) of sugar a day, according to the organisation, based on the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey results.

    Half of the sugar in children’s diets comes from drinks, sweets, cakes, puddings, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and yoghurts, PHE explained. It has offered advice to parents on the Change4Life website, and highlights manufacturers working to cut down on sugar in their food products. A new “Good Choice” badge has been launched to help people better identify items without excessive amounts of sugar.

    The government’s childhood obesity strategy has already warned that “mandatory and fiscal levers” could be introduced if the food industry does not make sufficient changes.

    What do you think? Is it time for a "pudding tax"? 

03 January 2019

What is Veganuary? We explore the movement taking the UK by storm

  • We're at the beginning of a brand new year, and many of us are considering our New Year's resolutions for 2019. 

    You may have already noticed that many of the UK's major supermarkets, including Waitrose, Sainsbury's and ASDA, are currently advertising products in aid of 'Veganuary', but what actually is Veganuary, and why does the word reappear at the start of every new year? 

    On the Veganuary website, it says:

    "Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.

    For most, a love of animals is the catalyst. Some people want to feel better about themselves and the impact they make on the world. Others would like to set themselves a challenge, and many combine Veganuary with their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and see trying vegan as the healthiest start to the year. Whatever your reason, we’re here to support you."

    We explored the potential health benefits of adopting a plant-based diet... 

    Disease Prevention

    Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Consuming nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.

    Eliminate any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol. Not only will your heart thank you for it, but your blood pressure will also be reduced. 

    Nutrition

    All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

    Reduced saturated fats

    Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the number of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.

    Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.

    Fibre

     A diet high in fibre (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fibre diets help fight against colon cancer.

    Magnesium

     Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.

    Potassium

    Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

    Physical Benefits

    In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits.

    Body Mass Index

    Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.

    Weight loss

    A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. 

    Healthy skin

    The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. 

    According to the Vegan Society, there are now at least 542,000 people in Britain following a vegan diet with another 521,000 vegetarians wanting to reduce their consumption of animal products.

    Are you trying Veganuary this year? Let us know by commenting or tweeting us @NewcrossHealth 

31 December 2018

5 New Year's resolutions for healthcare professionals

  • Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year - so what better time to start thinking about the improvements you'd like to make in 2019 to support your professional growth?

    If you haven't yet thought of a new year's resolution - here are five of our own suggestions for the Newcross Healthcare team.

    1.) Get more sleep

    As a healthcare professional, you'll known how important it is to be alert on the job. Sleep is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing. 

    If you happen to work a lot of night shifts, check out our top tips: Newcross nights: How to survive your night shift.

    2.) Take a course

    We're all about self-improvement. That's why, every month, we deliver between 150 and 200 courses to over 1,000 Nurses and Healthcare Assistants. Led by our dedicated in-house clinical trainers and supported by a network of individually selected local partners, all Clinical Courses are developed with and endorsed by our Clinical Governance Team.

    3.) Try 'Dry January'

    Dry January is a public health campaign urging people to abstain from alcohol for the month of January, particularly practised in the United Kingdom. 

    Recent research from the University of Sussex showed people who completed Dry January last year drank less, months after taking part. Of 800  participants in the Dry January research, 54 per cent had better skin, 58 per cent lost weight, and 57 per cent had better concentration.

    The research also showed that 67 percent of participants had more energy, 71 per cent slept better, and 88 per cent saved money.

    4.) Quit smoking

    The new year is the perfect time to make changes that will improve your health. 

    If you're looking to kick the habit, find our tips on how to quit, here. 

    5.) De-stress

    A few simple steps can help you to take control of any situation and aid you in reducing your stress.

    Social Media Champion and Colwyn Bay healthcare coordinator, Sian Jones, shares 10 top tips to manage and deal with stress.

    We'd like to wish you all a very happy and health new year for us at Newcross Healthcare! Are you setting goals for the new year? Let us know in the comments below! 

21 December 2018

Dementia night care: What you need to know

  • Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and felt confused from tiredness? That exact feeling is common among those who have dementia.

    Waking in the night can leave those living with dementia feeling disorientated. For example, if they want to go to the toilet, they might not be able to find their way. For others, being awake during the night could be linked to their previous life experiences.

    Kerr and Wilkinson (2011) describe situations whereby night-time wandering could be linked to residents having been night shift workers and were more used to sleeping by day and being active at night. In line with their recommendations, care home managers and night care staff should always: 

    * have a well-rounded understanding of dementia 

    * recognise that a person’s past might be influencing their present behaviour 

    * be aware of the communication difficulties of people with dementia so that they understand, when a person is trying to communicate that they are in pain or discomfort

    * be discouraged from recommending or using “quick fix” solutions such as sedative medication to get people to sleep, instead, exploring alternative methods based on their understanding of why people might be awake (see below)

    * adapt the night care time environment to reduce confusion and disorientation, for example, by having suitable lighting and signage in place

    * use assistive technology such as sensor mats to enable a prompt response so that any difficulties and the accompanying distress can be prevented or kept to a minimum.

    Dementia Care offers the following advice on how to help someone living with dementia to get a good night's sleep... 

    • Make sure the person with dementia is genuinely tired by the evening so they will naturally sleep. Avoid too many daytime naps (often these are out of boredom rather than a genuine need for sleep). Exercise also helps make someone tired.
    • Mid to late afternoon a person with dementia may show signs or irritability and restlessness. This is thought to be associated with light changes and tiredness. This is commonly referred to as Sundowning. A person with dementia may benefit from a short nap in the afternoon.
    • Make sure they have been to the toilet just before getting into bed.
    • Keep to their regular bedtime routine or start one if they don’t have one. Perhaps a milky drink, warm bath, putting on the radio for quiet music.
    • Put away all distracting ‘daytime’ things - clothes, newspapers, books etc.
    • Make sure the room is dark but perhaps with a night-light for reassurance or to help them find the way to the toilet.
    • An alarm pressure pad under the mattress can alert you if the person gets up. If the person moves around a lot whilst in bed, try a pressure pad on the floor next to the bed or an infra-red movement detector to alert you if the person gets up. This can be connected to a buzzer in your pocket or under your pillow.

    Read When should you check on a resident at night time? 

    Sources:

    Dementia Care 

    Croner-i Ltd