NHS running out of important drugs
Because what they are willing to pay for them is not competitive
Hospitals are running out of vital drugs to treat high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson’s disease because they are being sold abroad.
At least 19 NHS trusts across England have written to the Department of Health since September to warn of shortages, according to figures obtained by Labour MP Keith Vaz.
There are concerns that drugs manufactured in Britain, meant for NHS patients, are being sold to EU countries by wholesalers and pharmacists.
Fluctuations in exchange rates mean manufacturers can make more profit selling overseas.
Although the practice is not illegal, the Government has condemned it as unethical and there are concerns that patients are being put at risk.
Mr Vaz said: ‘The Government must not wait until a patient loses their life due to the shortages to take action.
‘I am worried that we are manufacturing medicines for this country and they are being sold abroad. It’s shameful.’
Mr Vaz said eight pharmacies in his constituency had contacted him about the problem in the past week alone.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘The health of some of the most vulnerable patients is being put at risk because the medicines they need just aren’t available.
‘Having access to the medicines prescribed by your doctor when you need them is a basic right that all patients should be able to expect.’
The drugs currently in short supply include those to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression.
The Department of Health said: ‘We continue to work with representatives of the medicines supply chain – including industry and wholesalers – to minimise the impact of shortages.’
Earlier this year, a survey of 300 pharmacies by Chemist and Druggist magazine found that one in five people spent more than an hour on the phone every day trying to find drugs.
And more than half said it took at least three days for an emergency supply for the drugs they had run out of to arrive.
Another 85 per cent said they were ‘very concerned’ that patients were being adversely affected as a result.
Immigrants bring TB back to London
In the shadows of some of London’s tallest skyscrapers and richest banks lurks a disease borne of the poverty and squalor usually associated with the Victorian era rather than a 21st-century financial capital.
Tuberculosis is staging a comeback in London, where some neighborhoods suffer infection rates found in African countries in which the disease is endemic. The number of cases surged 50 percent in the 10 years to 2009, according to a National Health Service agency.
The airborne bacteria has taken root in a population of recent immigrants, addicts and homeless who live close to affluent business districts and may pose a risk for those they rub elbows with.
“You wouldn’t expect to see that,” says Brian McCloskey, the Health Protection Agency’s regional director for London. “TB is one of the biggest public health problems we have.”
One hotspot is Tower Hamlets, a borough that draws together Canary Wharf, the home of some of Europe’s largest banks, and pockets of poverty that stretch along the Thames’ old docks east of the Tower of London and north past Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper preyed on prostitutes in 1888.
Tuberculosis, transmitted by coughs and sneezes, doesn’t just strike the needy.
After a worker at a Canary Wharf bank fell ill in 2010, Julian Surey, a nurse at Tower Hamlets Tuberculosis Service in East London, says he was sent with colleagues to her office to screen 14 of her co-workers, a challenge in an open-space environment where employees share keyboards and telephones.
“They were hot-desking and it was a nightmare,” Surey says. “People did get concerned.” Some workers demanded to see private doctors rather than be tested and treated by the state- run NHS, the 37-year-old nurse recalled. One person who sat next to the original patient contracted TB, according to Surey. He declined to identify the bank, as did other nurses.
One sneeze can release up to 40,000 droplets and each one can potentially cause infection. An untreated patient can infect up to 15 others a year, the World Health Organization estimates.
The condition, which can remain dormant in the body for decades but spread through the air and require extended courses of antibiotics once it has been roused, is difficult to diagnose, treat and contain.
Drugs are only part of the solution. Tuberculosis is a sensitive subject with social and political ramifications, says Graham Cooke, a senior lecturer in the department of medicine at the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.
In the U.K. capital, 84 percent of the 3,302 people infected in 2010 were foreign-born, according to the HPA, which means they may be grappling with language barriers, fear of stigmatization or homelessness.
“You don’t just give them tablets,” says Surey, who has worked as a nurse in Calcutta, India and Lima, Peru. “You have to understand the community.”
The disease was as prevalent in London as in some of the world’s poorer nations in 2010. The city had 43 cases per 100,000 overall and rates of 65 or more per 100,000 in hotbeds such as Tower Hamlets, some of them on par with Karonga district in Malawi, says Ali Zumla, a professor at University College London. By contrast, New York reports nine cases per 100,000 people and Berlin eight.
The U.K.’s colonial history, which ties it to countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh where tuberculosis is rife, plays a role.
The modern woman’s dirty secret
Story from Britain. There is obviously a degree of self-mockery below and there is a possibility that it could be a total spoof. Nonetheless, it is true that there are still some women who take pride in keeping an immaculate home. And those I know don’t feel a bit in need of being “liberated”. I once remarked to one of them that I couldn’t see anything that needed cleaning in her immaculate house, only to be greeted by the reply: “But I can”!
My name is Bryony Gordon and I have a dirty secret. I love cleaning. I mean I really love it. If cleanliness is next to godliness, one day I shall be made a saint – a saint with an exceptionally well-polished halo and a nice line in rubber gloves.
As the sun streamed through the windows last weekend, highlighting every bit of dust and slight smear of dirt in my home, I did not think: “Oh no, I am going to have to waste a glorious day up to my elbows in muck.” Instead, I got up at 8am with joy in my heart and a bottle of bleach in my hand. Because I love the smell of bleach more than any perfume.
It came as no surprise to me, then, to read that one out of three women secretly loves cleaning. Researchers have discovered that many find the process “relaxing”, “satisfying” and “therapeutic”, though only four in 10 would admit this to a partner – possibly due to horrid sexual stereotypes. I have no such qualms. My boyfriend enjoys tidying almost as much as I do. We fight over who gets to wash up (“me!” “No, me!”). We quarrel over whose turn it is to do the vacuuming. And we often have arguments over the iron which will one day end in third-degree burns.
The study found vacuuming, tidying and wiping surfaces clean are the chores women most enjoy. Cleaning the toilet and the oven are not so popular. On average, more than four hours a week are spent cleaning – “more” being the key word here, given that on Sunday I spent six hours vacuuming, washing, dusting and raking the garden of old leaves and cigarette butts (so satisfying).
To me, the most shocking thing about this survey isn’t that a third of women enjoy cleaning, it is that two-thirds of them don’t. Perhaps that is simply because I have chronic obsessive compulsive disorder. Most likely it is because we have been brought up to see cleaning as a chore, as something put-upon women of the 1950s did while their husbands earned money and seduced their secretaries.
The idea of a woman tending to her house became dirty, filthy, shameful, each mop of the floor a violent blow to feminism. But now that having a cleaner is no longer a Downton Abbey-style luxury and more of a middle-class necessity, the humble art of tidying has practically become a lifestyle choice. A hobby, even, akin to those trendy fashionistas who claim to knit and crochet in their spare time.
There is nothing more delightful than the sound of debris being sucked up a vacuum cleaner. Who could fail to be aroused – yes, aroused – by mopping away spillages from the kitchen floor? There is simply no lovelier way to spend a Sunday evening than ironing in front of the television; the smell of fresh starch and orange-and-pomegranate ironing water filling the room and your bed linen.
As saintly as this all sounds, the truth is that my love of cleaning is entirely self-serving. It makes me feel smug and allows me to cleanse myself of all sorts of other sins, such as coming home drunk and forgetting to pay the bills. Nobody can get cross with you if you have spent two hours cleaning the oven.
Tidying is a good way to claim superiority and get what you want. Indeed, there’s a new survival guide for frustrated wives by a woman named Kerri Sackville. It is called When My Husband Does the Dishes (He Usually Wants Sex!). But it can work the other way around, too.
State pupils ‘not being pushed for Oxbridge’ prompting fears hundreds of youngsters are being held back
More than half of state school teachers are failing to encourage their brightest pupils to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, according to a survey out today.
They ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ advise their most gifted pupils to apply to the elite institutions, prompting fears that hundreds of youngsters are being held back.
The survey results suggest that many teachers perceive Oxbridge to be the preserve of wealthy private school pupils, even though 57 per cent of entrants are state-educated.
The Sutton Trust, the education charity that commissioned the study, called for action to ‘dispel myths’ surrounding Oxbridge. ‘It is deeply concerning that the majority of state school teachers are not encouraging their brightest children to apply to Oxford and Cambridge,’ said Sir Peter Lampl, the trust’s chairman.
‘It is also worrying that almost all state school teachers, even the most senior school leaders, think that Oxbridge is dominated by public schools.’
He added: ‘The sad consequence of these findings is that Oxford and Cambridge are missing out on talented students in state schools, who are already under-represented at these institutions based on their academic achievements.’
Institutions are coming under intense Government pressure to increase their intake of state school pupils despite fears such moves could introduce crude ‘social engineering’ into admissions.
Today’s survey suggests too few bright pupils are applying in the first place amid a failure by their teachers to encourage them.
The poll of 730 secondary state school teachers, by the National Foundation for Educational Research, showed nearly two thirds believed less than 30 per cent of Oxbridge pupils came from state schools. One in five said they would ‘never’ advise their brightest pupils to apply to Oxbridge, while 29 per cent would do so ‘rarely’. Only 16 per cent said they would ‘always’ advise applying, with 28 per cent saying ‘usually’ and 10 per cent saying they ‘didn’t know’.
Head teachers last night insisted that Oxbridge was ‘only one of many’ routes for bright students.
Brian Lightman, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘There are many good universities in the UK and other excellent employment-based routes into top careers, all of which are available to high calibre applicants from all backgrounds.
‘Social mobility is about far more than entry to Oxbridge.
‘If teachers and for that matter the general public are not aware of admissions trends to Oxbridge, surely those universities should be addressing the misconception in their own communication.
‘We agree that young people should be made aware of the opportunities available to them, which is why we have been so concerned about the removal of national funding for face-to-face careers guidance by a qualified adviser. This should be an entitlement for all students.’