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NEWS IN BRIEF: OTC Drugs; Antibiotics; Well Pay Boost; Diabetes; Coeliac Disease; Migrants


12 Apr 2016

NHS ‘squandering’ millions on over-the-counter drugs

The NHS is spending millions each year on remedies that are easily available over the counter, The Times reports.

Doctors give out hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for such common healthcare products as Vaseline, Rennie, Strepsils and Benadryl, according to newly released NHS data.

Last year 1.33 million prescriptions for multivitamins were handed out in England alone, costing the NHS more than £3.8 million.

One of the biggest areas of spending was on antacids – mainly Rennie and Gaviscon – with more than four million prescriptions costing just over £26 million.

Mapping antibiotic resistance in real-time The world is reportedly on the verge of a potential medical emergency as antibiotic resistance continues to rise, yet new drugs do not appear to be coming on stream fast enough to combat so-called “super bugs”, The Guardian reports. The means by which a bacteria becomes resistant are natural processes of evolution, exacerbated by doctors overprescribing antibiotics and patients not always finishing their treatment. This gives bacteria additional opportunities to come into contact with antibiotics and devise ways of surviving. Antibiotic Research UK has been set up to raise money to develop new antibiotics as well as educate doctors and the public on how to get the most from existing drugs.

Well Pharmacy increases pay for 4,500 employees

Pharmacy chain Well is increasing hourly pay rates by between 2% and 10% for 4,500 employees, Employee Benefits reports.

The organisation, which employs around 7,000 members of staff, will implement the increases across seven roles in its pharmacy stores and driving teams.

Healthcare assistants and pharmacy assistant trainees will see their pay rise by 8% from £6.83 an hour to £7.38 an hour; pharmacy assistant pay will rise from £7.33 an hour to £8.07 an hour; healthcare assistant trainee pay will increase by 10% from £6.70 to £7.38; and pharmacy technicians will benefit from a 2% pay increase, with their hourly rate rising from £8.97 to £9.15.

Pregnancy diabetes tests ‘too late’, warn scientists Tests for diabetes in pregnancy – which affects the developing baby – are taking place too late, warn scientists, the BBC reports. Untreated, the condition can increase the risk of a stillbirth and other complications. Most screening takes place at 28 weeks, but a University of Cambridge study of 4,069 women showed the foetus was already affected by then. Charities said gestational diabetes was involved in a “significant number” of potentially avoidable stillbirths. Gestational diabetes is common and affects up to 18 in every 100 pregnancies.

Don’t scoff at the gluten-free brigade: ‘coeliac lite’ could be a real condition

If you ever scoff at the dietary habits of so-called gluten-free“lifestylers”, you might need to eat your words, The Telegraph reports.

A growing body of research suggests that many people suffering gut problems have genuine medical conditions that often are not taken seriously.

Professor David Sanders, a gastroenterologist at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Gluten-Related Disorders, claims in a new book that gluten intolerance is a clinical problem and not a fad driven by celebrities.

Proposed health charges for migrants fail test against government’s own principles

Proposals by the UK government to charge non-EEA residents for access to the NHS fail to abide by the government’s principles for the NHS, are ideologically driven and unlikely to result in substantial savings, according to an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Health Canal reports.

The government’s consultation document, entitled Making a Fair Contribution, proposes that while consultations with GPs and nurses in primary care remain free for non-EEA migrants, those using ambulances, or accessing emergency departments or inpatient services would be charged 150% of the tariff paid by NHS purchasers.

The article’s authors from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine tested the proposals to assess if the changes are consistent with the four principles set out for the NHS by the government.

They say these principles are subtly adapted from those on which the NHS is based, which were that it meets the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.


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