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Families ‘frustrated’ at delay in publication of maternity scandal report | NHS

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Families have voiced “huge frustration” after publication of the final report into the biggest maternity scandal in the NHS was delayed for a second time.

The Ockenden review investigated 1,862 maternity cases at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust in which mothers and babies may have been harmed over almost 20 years, and was due to be published on 22 March, having been delayed from December.

This week senior midwife Donna Ockenden, who is leading the review, wrote to families to say publication had been delayed again due to “parliamentary processes” that still need to take place, and a new date has yet to be confirmed.

“It’s hugely frustrating. I can’t really articulate it, it just feels awful. We’ve had this date ahead of us, everyone’s lives are on hold and we’re holding our breath to finally get this report,” said Rhiannon Davies, whose daughter Kate Stanton-Davies died under the care of the trust shortly after she was born in 2009.

“People have booked time off work because emotionally it’s a huge thing. Treating the families like this, and treating Donna like this after all the work she’s done, it’s just disrespectful.”

Davies and her partner Richard Stanton have campaigned for the review for years alongside Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in 2016 after contracting an infection during birth.

In a written statement to parliament on Tuesday, the patient safety minister, Maria Caulfield, said the NHS is in the process of securing indemnity cover for potential legal action following the publication of the report.

Davies said many families were sceptical about the reasons behind the delay. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a very damning report and there are a lot of people squirming in positions of power at the moment. This delay will not prevent the truth from coming out, no matter what the reason is behind it,” Davies said.

“All the families have been, in effect, psyching ourselves up for what we would finally hear on that day,” said Charlotte Cheshire, whose 10-year-old son Adam was left with severe disabilities after staff failed to administer antibiotics for seven hours when he caught an infection during birth.

“All the families involved in this inquiry, either their children have died or they’ve been dreadfully injured and left disabled. These are big, emotional situations that we’re dealing with. This report has been years in the making, everyone has had time to make the arrangements that needed to be made.

“This delay leaves us angry, disappointed, upset and triggers the grief all over again.”

The review was commissioned by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2017 to examine an initial 23 cases. Ockenden’s interim report, published in December 2020, uncovered a pattern of failures at the trust, including a lethal reluctance to conduct caesarean sections and a tendency to blame mothers for problems.

“My son’s birthday is next week, he would have been seven. That’s seven years without a sorry from the hospital,” said Hayley Matthews, whose son Jack Burn died 11 hours after he was born in 2015.

“You want justice for your own, but you also want change. I can’t bring my son back, but hopefully this review will help other families, stop it from happening again. But until we see this report, everyone is in the dark.”

A spokesperson for the Ockenden review said: “We have been informed that a number of parliamentary processes are required before the final report can be published in parliament. The Department of Health and Social Care are working to have these arrangements in place so we can publish the report at the earliest opportunity. These parliamentary processes are completely beyond the control of the review team.”

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are committed to getting the families the answers they deserve and our sympathies remain with all those affected. “We continue to work with the Ockenden review team and NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure the final report is published at the earliest opportunity.”

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Solar storms may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in a given year

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In an approximate 11-year cycle, the sun blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field, which may disrupt our body clock and ultimately affect our heart



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17 June 2022

A solar storm

Jurik Peter/Shutterstock

Solar storms that disrupt Earth’s magnetic field may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in the US in a given year.

The sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat approximately every 11 years. During periods of high activity, it blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field.

These so-called solar storms can cause glitches in our power grids and bring down Earth-orbiting satellites. A handful of studies have also hinted that they increase the risk of …

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UK Covid infection rate rising, with more than a million cases in England | Coronavirus

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Coronavirus infections are rising in the UK, figures have revealed, with experts noting the increase is probably down to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, reveal that in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in the community in England are thought to have had Covid – around 1.13 million people.

The figure is even higher, at one in 45, in both Wales and Northern Ireland, while it was highest in Scotland where, in the week ending 10 June, one in 30 people are thought to have been infected.

While the figures remain below the peak levels of infection seen earlier this year, when around one in 13 people in England had Covid, the findings are a rise on the previous week where one in 70 people in England were thought to be infected. Furthermore, the data reveals increases in all regions of England, except the north-east, and across all age groups.

Experts say that a key factor in the increase is probably the rise of the Covid variants of concern BA.4 and BA.5.

“Infections have increased across all four UK nations, driven by rising numbers of people infected with the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants,” said Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey.

While Steel said it remained too early to say if this was the start of another wave, others have warned it may already have begun, with increased mixing and travelling among other factors fuelling a rise in cases.

Among concerns scientists have raised are that BA.4, BA.5 and another variant on the rise, BA.2.12.1, replicate more efficiently in human lung cells than BA.2.

Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said the latest figures were not surprising, and might rise further.

“This increase in infection prevalence is likely due to the growth of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which as we have seen elsewhere in Europe, appear to be able to escape immunity generated from previous Omicron subvariants,” she said.

“It is therefore possible that we will continue to see some growth in infection prevalence in the coming weeks and consequently an increase in hospitalisations, although these subvariants do not currently appear to result in any significantly changed severity profile. This does however serve as a reminder that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.”

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NHS to offer women in England drug that cuts recurrence of breast cancer | Breast cancer

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Thousands of women in England with breast cancer are to benefit from a new pill on the NHS which reduces the risk of the disease coming back.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has given the green light to abemaciclib, which cuts the chance of breast cancer returning after a patient has had surgery to remove a tumour.

Trials showed that patients who had the drug with hormone therapy had a more than 30% improved chance of their cancer not coming back after surgery, compared with hormone therapy alone.

“It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back,” said Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now.

“The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.

“New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step change in the drug options available for this group of patients.”

The twice-a-day pill is suitable for women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence who have had surgery. About 4,000 women will benefit initially, Nice said.

Helen Knight, the interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the draft recommendation came less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence.

“The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost effective treatments as early as possible,” said Knight. “Until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease.”

Abemaciclib works by targeting and inhibiting proteins in cancer cells which allow the cancer to divide and grow. It normally costs £2,950 for a packet of 56 150mg-tablets, but the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has agreed an undisclosed discounted price for NHS England.

“Thanks in part to this latest deal struck by NHS England, NHS patients will be able to access another new targeted drug for a common and aggressive form of breast cancer,” said Prof Peter Johnson, the cancer director of NHS England.

“Abemaciclib, when used alongside a hormone therapy, offers a new, doubly targeted, treatment option, helping to increase the chances of beating the cancer for good, as well as meeting the NHS’s commitment to delivering improved cancer care under our long-term plan.”

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