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NEWS IN BRIEF: NHS Taxation; Large-scale Inspections; MHRA; Flu


24 May 2016

Former NHS chiefs call for increased taxation to prop up the ailing health service

Ministers must increase taxes to raise new cash for the NHS, a former chief executive of the health service in England has said, warning that no developed country would be able to cope with the spending squeeze inflicted on the health since the financial crisis of 2008, the Independent reports.

Sir David Nicholson, who served as head of NHS England until 2014, said that last week’s record NHS hospital deficit figures were a symptom of the “serious problem” of NHS under-funding.

His call for a boost for NHS spending via the taxation system was echoed by a senior NHS official, who said the only alternative to increasing taxes or national insurance contributions would be deeply unpopular new charges for NHS care.

NHS hospitals, ambulance, community and mental health services in England reported a total overspend of £2.5bn in 2015/16 – the biggest ever recorded for the sector.

NHS watchdogs abandon large-scale inspections as budget cuts bite NHS watchdogs are to abandon large-scale comprehensive inspections of hospitals  in a bid to cope with a squeeze on funding, prompting alarm from patients’ groups, The Telegraph reports. The Care Quality Commission said hospitals would undergo a “more targeted” approach to inspection focused on the areas of greatest risk, with longer gaps between visits for services with the best ratings. Three years ago, the watchdog promised a new strategy – including “bigger more expert inspection teams” – after it was widely discredited after becoming embroiled in an NHS cover-up over a maternity scandal in Morecambe Bay. But the new plan, in response to a 13 per cent cut in funding, will see a move away from “large-scale comprehensive inspections” unless there are particular grounds for concern.

Medicines regulator warns on workload and delay to supplies

The medicines regulator would struggle to cope with a vastly increased workload and reduced income if the country leaves the EU, its chair said yesterday, while innovative drugs will take longer to reach British patients, the Financial Times reports.

Brexit would also force the European Medicines Agency – the largest EU body in Britain – out of London, said Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency chair Sir Michael Rawlins.

Asked whether the MHRA would be able to take on all the extra work registering new drugs and medical devices carried out by the EMA, Sir Michael replied: “Certainly not.”

MHRA would need to recruit hundreds of new staff to add to the 800 or so people who currently carry out its regulatory work, he said.

Flu vaccine may lower dementia risk for heart patients

Hundreds of thousands of people with heart failure could have their risk of dementia with simple flu vaccinations, according to new research, The Times reports.

More than half a million people in the UK live with heart failure, which will result in vascular dementia in about 150,000 cases.

The condition, the second most common form of dementia, develops from a lack of blood to the brain, causing reduced cognitive function and memory loss.

 


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