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Hospitals In England Relax Covid Rules To Help Tackle Waiting Lists

Hospitals in England relax Covid rules to help tackle waiting lists

Ministers have ordered a major relaxation of coronavirus infection control measures in England’s hospitals in an effort to make it easier to tackle the backlog.

The move follows a review, led by the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, into whether the NHS could start to remove some Covid rules and enable medics to see more patients.

Currently, stringent guidelines designed to protect staff, patients and visitors from coronavirus, in place since the early part of last year, also make it harder to treat the rising numbers in need of elective care.

A record 5.6 million people in England are waiting for treatment, according to the latest NHS data.

Three key recommendations for elective care were accepted by Sajid Javid, the health secretary, on Monday. Each comes into force immediately.

They involve cutting social distancing from 2 metres to 1, dropping the need for patients to isolate before operations, and adopting “standard” rather than “advanced” cleaning procedures.

They are likely to prompt concern among some health professionals and scientists, as the virus continues to infect tens of thousands in the UK each day. Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary healthcare at the University of Oxford, said on Twitter that the relaxation of rules could “make things worse”.

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the changes appeared “generally reasonable” and should be implemented where they can to “improve access to healthcare”. However, he warned that false negative test results could mean that “some asymptomatically infected patients will be put on wards with vulnerable patients”.

Clarke also said the new cleaning guidance “smacks of corner-cutting” and “may well lead to transmission of Covid-19 and other infections in our hospitals”.

The changes come hours after it emerged that the UK has joined a handful of countries to have fully vaccinated two-thirds of its population against Covid.

More than 44.7m second doses have been delivered in the UK, government figures show – the equivalent of just over 66.6% of the total population. Other countries to have passed this mark include Belgium, Canada, Chile, Singapore and Spain.

“As ever more people benefit from the protection of our phenomenal vaccination campaign, we can now safely begin to relieve some of the most stringent infection control measures where they are no longer necessary to benefit patients and ease the burden on hardworking NHS staff,” said Javid.

A new analysis by the Health Foundation warned on Monday that the waiting list is likely to “grow significantly”. It suggested that 7.5 million fewer people were sent for hospital care than expected during the pandemic.

While it is not clear whether all those will eventually come forward to seek help, the thinktank warned the waiting list will “continue to grow” over the next few years. Boris Johnson conceded this month that the backlog would “get worse before it gets better”.

Now fresh advice will be issued to hospitals over how they carry out elective care, Harries said, as more of the population is vaccinated and scientists understand more about how the infection is transmitted and how it can be contained.

The review says NHS staff working in areas where Covid control measures have been relaxed should be fully vaccinated, asymptomatic and not be a contact of a positive case.

“We have reviewed the existing Covid-19 evidence-based guidance and made a series of initial pragmatic recommendations on how local providers can start to safely remove some of the interventions that have been in place in elective care specifically for Covid-19,” said Harries. “This is a first step to help the NHS treat more patients more quickly, while ensuring their safety and balancing their different needs for care.”

The guidance will not apply to certain areas, such as emergency departments.

Patients preparing to undergo elective operations, such as hip or knee surgery, will no longer need to have a negative PCR test or isolate for three days before the procedure. Instead, patients in “low-risk” groups who are double vaccinated and asymptomatic will take a lateral flow test on the day.

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Group hails IG as mother accused Hospital of stealing Placenta

The Inspector General of Police, (IG) Kayode Egbetokun has received praises for the prompt arrest of suspects accused of stealing the placenta of a new born baby in privated hospital located in Kwara State. The suspects were taken from Ilofa to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Thursday.
In a statement signed by NHRC’s official, Mr Taiwo Adeleye said the arrest of the suspects was an important step towards securing justice for the families of Mr Rotimi Williams whose wife accused health officials at a private hospital of stealing the placenta of her new born baby.
The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC),a coalition of 130 civil society groups spread across Nigeria on Thursday expressed delight at the arrest of the suspects by the police.
The group said it was aware of plots by some powerful individuals to clog the wheel of justice but was delighted that the IG has brought hope to the despairing family. It called for full investigation that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of all culprits.
Few days ago, Mrs Williams accused the management of Cottage hospital, Ilofa, Kwara State of failing to account for the placenta of her new born baby. In complaints lodged with the NHRC, Mrs Williams said a nurse, Mrs Alabi took the delivery, one nurse Adeloye cleaned up the baby while one Mrs Toyin, a ward attendant claimed she mistakenly threw away the placenta.
“In Nigerian agelong tradition, the placenta is linked to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of a new born baby. There is a customary and agelong way of burying placenta of which every medical staff is aware.The disappearance of a baby’s placenta is a source of eternal trauma for the parents and a prelude to impugn the future of the child based on timeless tradition and beliefs,” the NHRC said.
The Coalition said the placenta could be stolen for rituals, adding that stealing a placenta is like killing the child or using the child for ritual by other means The group said it would follow-up the case “day and night” to ensure justice is done. The NHRC said Mrs Toyin brought out the mother’s bags from the labour room but failed to take the placenta along.
The rights group said one Mrs Ayoni Awolusi in the course of the delivery, claimed she was to be on duty but was absent. The medical personnel expected to be on dury was Dr. Ajibola. NHRC said Mrs Williams put to bed around 7pm on Sunday May 12 but discovered the missing placenta very early on Monday 13th, May.
The group called on the IG to intensify the probe and ensure every one connected with the gory episode is brought to justice

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AstraZeneca withdraws COVID-19 vaccines from market as demand reduces

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it was withdrawing Covid vaccine Vaxzevria, one of the first produced in the deadly pandemic, citing “commercial reasons” following a slump in demand.

“As multiple, variant Covid-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson added in a statement.

“We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

AstraZeneca rapidly developed the successful Covid-19 jab during the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the first half of 2020.

Vaxzevria, developed alongside Oxford University, was at first offered at cost but Astra decided in late 2021 to sell it for profit.

But the world pivoted towards mRNA vaccines, particularly the one produced by US drugs giant Pfizer and German peer BioNTech, after rare blood-clot problems with Astra’s jab increased public hesitancy about taking it.

Sales collapsed further as global Covid restrictions were fully lifted worldwide and the world emerged from the global health crisis.

The AstraZeneca spokesperson said the group had begun the process from taking it off the market in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMA) region.

The company will work with other regulators globally to start market authorisation withdrawals for the Vaxzevria “where no future commercial demand for the vaccine is expected”.

The spokesperson said that, according to independent estimates, “over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone” and more than three billion doses were supplied globally.

“We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

“Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic. ”

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NMA lauds Police for arresting fake doctor in Lagos

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has commended the Nigerian Police Force for arresting an alleged fake medical doctor.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, Chairman, NMA Lagos, said the arrest will strengthen the association’s fight against quackery in the medical profession.

Olowojebutu explained that medical quackery was a dangerous practice that posed a threat to the well-being of citizens and the delivery of quality healthcare in the state, and country.

“The arrest is a welcome development for the health sector; we would expose these quacks and ensure that Lagos does not suffer further morbidity and mortality from their nefarious activities.

“We are glad that our work on anti-quackery has started yielding progress as we are determined to weed out quacks from the medical profession,” he said.

The chairman pledged that NMA Lagos, with the support of the Ministry of Health, Health Monitoring and Accreditation Agency, HEFAMAA, and police, would eradicate quacks from the state.

According to him, the association would hold an anti-quackery summit soon, after which it would present a white paper to the Lagos State Government on anti-quackery.

Olowojebutu warned hospitals to refrain from employing staff whose certificates and licences had not been verified by the MDCN to safeguard the health of the populace.

The 37-year-old medical practitioner with suspected forged certificates was arrested by police at Skylink Medical Centre, Elepe-Ikorodu.

The police said they arrested the suspect, who claimed to be the managing director of the health facility, based on intelligence gathered by the command through members of the Elepe community concerning the activities of the suspect.

The police recovered two suspected forged certificates of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, after searching for the facility.

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