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One in four Britons ‘not confident NHS can care for them’, survey reveals | NHS

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One in four Britons do not believe that the NHS can care for them properly, new research into the public’s attitude to the health service reveals.

When asked “how confident are you, if at all, in the NHS’s ability to give you the care you need?”, a quarter (26%) said they were not confident.

While only 15% thought the NHS was not coping well with treating coronavirus patients, many more – 41% – believed that it was not coping well with providing other services.

Experts said that increasingly long delays for operations and GP appointments, Covid’s disruption to normal NHS services and longstanding staff shortages were likely to blame for the widespread lack of confidence in the health service’s ability to provide timely and effective medical treatment.

Sally Warren, the director of policy at the King’s Fund health thinktank, said that the pandemic had added to the pressure already being felt in the NHS and forced it to prioritise who received care.

NHS confidence

“The impact of this reprioritisation has been clear for all to see through regular reports of NHS services struggling to cope. Once again this is at the forefront of many people’s minds as the Omicron variant brings back the threat of services being overwhelmed,” said Warren.

“But it’s not just media reports that change people’s perceptions of the health service, and many people have personal experience of struggling to access their GP or being stuck on a hospital waiting list,” she added.

The findings by the pollsters Ipsos Mori are based on questions it asked 1,032 adults aged 18 to 75 across Britain between 16 and 18 December. When the 41% who thought the NHS was not coping well with providing non-Covid care were asked who they held responsible, 48% said the government, 18% blamed patients and 8% identified the general public as the culprits.

The survey also found that people who were on a waiting list for routine hospital care themselves or who have had a relative on one were more likely to be “not confident” in the NHS’s ability to provide care.

Labour said the findings showed the effects of persistent and unaddressed staff shortages.

“The pandemic has put enormous pressures on the NHS. But the health service went into the pandemic hugely understaffed with patients already waiting too long for care. With record waiting lists, 100,000 NHS staff shortages and 112,000 vacancies in social care in 2019, the Tories left our health service criminally ill-equipped for Covid,” said Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary.

“None of this is the fault of our heroic health and social care workers, who are getting Britain through this pandemic. For our NHS to be able to provide the care patients expect the workforce needs to be properly valued, strengthened and provided with modern equipment and technology to ensure patients receive quality care quicker,” he added.

The pandemic – which led to the widespread suspension of normal NHS care and has seen England’s waiting list soar from 4.4 million to 5.8 million – appears to have undermined the public’s faith in its ability to give them the care they need.

In the research, 37% of those questioned said they had less confidence that the NHS could give them the care they need since the pandemic while just 21% said they had more confidence.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals in England, said the huge pressures the service was under were being felt by patients.

“The NHS has just been through the toughest two years in its history, and is being severely tested on multiple fronts.

Doctor examines the blood pressure of a patient
Long waits for GP appointments were one likely cause for the lack of confidence in the NHS.
Photograph: RayArt Graphics/Alamy

“The public know the health service is pulling out all the stops to provide the care people need. A large majority are confident in the NHS’s ability to deliver that care. It’s understandable, given the scale of the pressures, that some will be worried,” Hopson said.

He cited the Omicron variant, the record backlog of those waiting for surgery – which NHS leaders admit will take years to clear – and huge demand for A&E as examples of the growing strain.

Kate Duxbury, Ipsos Mori’s joint research director, said: “Overall, the public still think the NHS has the ability to give them the care they need, though this has been impacted by the pandemic and there are signs it will come under increasing pressure as more people find themselves waiting for NHS care.”

A Department of Health and Social care spokesperson declined to respond directly to the findings. But a spokesperson said: “While the pandemic has put enormous pressures on the NHS and caused waiting lists to grow, the NHS is delivering the biggest vaccination rollout in history and more than 32 million people have been given their vital booster jab.

“Our record investment in the NHS includes an extra £2bn this year and £8bn over the next three years to cut waiting times and deliver an extra 9m checks, scans and operations ensuring patients get the treatment they need sooner.

“The NHS is also deploying more efficient, innovative ways of working, including opening new surgical hubs and at least 100 community diagnostic centres by 2025 to make getting checked quicker and more convenient.”

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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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