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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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Kwara approves 100% consolidated health salary structure for nurses

The Kwara State government has approved and implemented a 100% Consolidated Health Salary Structure, (CONHESS) for nurses in the state.

Also, the state government has recruited about 63 nurses to fill the vacuum created by the brain drain in the country to improve the quality and standard of nursing care in line with the global best practices.

The Chairman and Secretary of the Kwara State Council of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Aminu Shehu and Markus Luka respectively, disclosed this in a statement in Ilorin made available to journalists.

The association appreciated the Executive Secretary of the state Hospital Management Bureau for playing a vital role in the struggle towards ensuring that its demands were met by the government.

The body also commended Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for the approval and implementation of the 100% CONHESS and the recruitment of more nurses to boost healthcare delivery in the state.


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More than 400 consultant anesthetists left Nigeria in 2yrs – Society

More than 400 consultant anesthetists left the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures in the last two years, President of the Nigerian Society of Anesthetists, Dr Olubusola Alagbe-Briggs said in Gombe on Wednesday.

Alagbe-Briggs told newsmen on the side-line of the society’s 31st annual scientific conference that the immigrant anesthetists left Nigeria in search of better practice environment.

She said anesthetists were the most sought-after specialists in foreign lands because of the peculiarity of their services.

“There is a global shortage of anesthetists because of the nature of the job which is intensive, acute and focused.

“We had about 1,200 members in the past, but today we have only 800 members.

“Those countries that are short of anesthetists are pulling those here in Nigeria to their countries.

“Nigerian professionals are the best. They are highly sought-after by other countries.

“Medical practitioners and other professionals will continue to emigrate until their welfare and available equipment are improved upon,’’ she said.

Alagbe-Briggs stressed that availability appropriate equipment and improved welfare were essential to improve medical practice and services.

She said the conference itself sought to ensure continuous enhancement of the knowledge of the society’s members to help to improve their services.

“We are looking at how we can help to improve on cancer care; we are involved in the operational stage, pain relief, emergency care and intensive care.

“We are in Gombe to brainstorm on how to improve our specialty in line with the theme of the conference, learn from one another and share research outcomes,’’ Alagbe-Briggs said.

The conference has: “Anesthesia and the pre-operative care of patients with cancers’’ as its theme.

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WHO Demands Fresh Data from China amid Outbreak of Pneumonia in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) is requesting more data from China amid an outbreak of pneumonia in children.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.

Face masks and social distancing are again being recommended in the country.

The country is said to be grappling with a spike in pneumonia, dubbed ‘white lung syndrome’ because of the way lung damage shows up on scans, among children that has been attributed to a rebound in respiratory illnesses rather than an entirely new virus.



China had one of the most brutal and longest lockdowns of any country in the world which the WHO says robbed children of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses. 

Dr Van Kerkhove told the conference today: ‘Yes, we are seeing an increase in respiratory infections around the world.

‘We’re in autumn and entering winter months, so we are expecting to see rises in respiratory infections regardless.

We are following up with China. They are seeing an increase due a number of different infections

We are following up with our clinical network and following up with clinicians in China.

‘In terms of acute respiratory infections, we are looking at the burden on healthcare systems and looking at the healthcare capacities of systems.’

It comes after Chinese Health Ministry spokesman Mi Feng urged people in the country to again consider wearing face masks and distancing.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, he said: ‘Efforts should be made to increase the opening of relevant clinics and treatment areas, extend service hours and increase the supply of medicines.

‘It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places.

‘[This includes] in schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.’

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