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Strike action; 'fresh dispute' over Health Reforms; doctors failing to identify cancer in teenagers; doubt on prostate cancer treatment; and health tourism

OnMedica staff

Monday, 30 April 2012


The NHS Employers organisation said it had “serious concerns” about the effect a strike by public health workers might have on patients’ health, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p2).

Members of the Unite union working in the NHS intend to join others on the public payroll in strikes and other action on May 10 in protest against the Government’s public sector pension reforms.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has called on the conciliation service Acas to help resolve the dispute which could, according to NHS Employers director Dean Royles, “cause distress and disruption to patients”.


The Financial Times (p4) on Monday reports: “Coalition MPs are braced for a fresh dispute over the contentious health reforms when they vote on a series of proposals to set up the bodies at the heart of the Health and Social Care Act.”

Labour “has vowed” to use the opportunity to highlight their opposition to the reforms, which would increase private sector involvement in the health service, says the FT.

The opposition admit that they are unlikely to vote down the measures, but they will use the opportunity to “embarrass the Conservatives”.


The Times (p17) and the Daily Mail (p20) report on Monday that according to a survey by the charity Teenage Cancer Trust a quarter of young people with cancer had to see their GP four times or more before they were referred to a specialist.

Doctors miss common signs of cancer in about a third of teenage sufferers and 12% of the teenagers questioned said GPs had accused them of being “attention seeking”, says The Times.

The Mail reports: “Experts say delayed diagnosis in 13 to 24 year-olds could be costing lives, as cancer is the leading medical cause of death in this age group.”

The Times says: “Professor Sir Mike Richards, the national clinical director for cancer at the Department of Health, said: ‘Early diagnosis is best achieved by educating young people to increase their confidence in talking to doctors, and helping everyone recognise the signs and symptoms in this age group’.”


According to The Independent on Sunday (p1, p10-11), cancer specialists are bracing themselves for publication of a research study which casts doubt over the standard surgical procedure to treat prostate cancer.

The results of the Prostate Intervention Versus Observation Trial (PIVOT), which started in 1994 with 731 men under study, showed that those who had their prostate glands surgically removed had less than a 3% survival benefit compared with those who had no treatment, after being followed up for 12 years.

A leading British specialist told The Independent the only rational response to the results, when presented with a patient with prostate cancer, was to do nothing.

The results were welcomed by Dr Kate Holmes, head of research at The Prostate Cancer Charity, although she remarked that these results were early data from the PIVOT trial and that it was only with the full published results that more informed decisions could be made about treatment.

The Daily Mail (p20) on Monday also covers the story.


The Daily Telegraph (p11) says on Monday: “There is nothing to stop foreign visitors registering with GPs on arrival in England and gaining free treatment on the NHS immediately, the government has admitted, raising fresh fears over costly ‘health tourism’.”

The paper notes that some foreigners come to the UK “solely to access treatment” and “although attempts are made to recoup the cost of hospital care, about 60 million pounds is currently owed to trusts”.

How would qualify the communication between primary and secondary care services? (See OnMedica News 20/04)

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