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NHS long-term plan: Non-hospital care to get biggest funding rise

GPs, mental health and community care are the services to get the biggest increases in funding as pa..

GPs, mental health and community care are the services to get the biggest increases in funding as part of a new long-term plan to overhaul the NHS.

The aim is to curb the reliance on hospitals, which will get a smaller cut of the budget as health chiefs overhaul the way the service works in England.

NHS bosses say it will kick-start a greater focus on preventing ill-health – and could save up to 500,000 lives.

But senior doctors said hospitals were facing a "near-on impossible task".

Society of Acute Medicine president Dr Nick Scriven said he was "staggered" by the plans given the problems facing hospitals.

Many trusts are missing all three key waiting time targets for A&E, cancer care and routine operations, and are struggling to balance the books.

If you can't see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here.

The full details of the 10-year plan are to be unveiled later by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and Prime Minister Theresa May.

But ahead of the publication, NHS England confirmed a third of the extra £20bn the NHS will get in 2023 will go on GPs, community care and mental health.

Currently they account for less than a quarter of spending, while hospitals take up around half of the £114bn frontline budget.

NHS England said spending on hospitals would still rise overall, just not as quickly as other areas, and that in turn would relieve the pressure on hospitals and create a "new model for the 21st century".

Mr Stevens called it a "practical, costed and phased route map" for the decade ahead.

What will the money be spent on?

Mental health is due to get £2.3 billion extra of the £20bn, while GP and community care is to get £4.5 billion.

NHS England said that will help pay for:

  • Mental health support in schools and 24-hour access to mental health crisis care via the NHS 111 service
  • Extra support in the community so patients can be discharged quickly from hospital
  • Digital access to health services, including online GP booking
  • Healthy living programmes for patients struggling with ill-health
  • New testing centres for cancer patients to ensure earlier diagnosis
  • DNA testing for children with cancer and those with rare genetic disorders to help select the best treatment

NHS England believes combined the new vision could save 500,000 lives through preventing diseases, such as strokes, heart problems and cancer, and spotting them earlier to improve the chances of survival.

As healthcare policy is politically devolved, the plan only applies to the NHS in England.

But the other UK nations are drawing up their own plans. Under the government's funding system they are getting an extra £4bn between them by 2023.

What is this 10-year NHS plan?

The prime minister asked for the plan to be drawn up when she unveiled extra funding for the health service in the summer to mark its 70th birthday.

The budget will grow by £20bn a year by 2023 – the equivalent of annual rises of just under 3.5%.

She said a long-term plan for the next decade was needed to ensure the money was wisely spent.

The last time a 10-year plan was set out was in 2000 under Tony Blair.

Speaking about the plan on Sunday, Mrs May said it was a "historic" moment for the NHS and would help pay for "world class" treatments.

But Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said the plan lacked both the staffing and funding to succeed and accused the government of "mismanagement" of the health service.

"The NHS needs a credible fully-funded plan for the future, not a wish list to help Theresa May get through the coming months."

What do others make of it?

The ambitions are being welcomed. Prof Carrie MacEwen, of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: "It's good to have a plan which sets a clear direction for the NHS."

But unions have warned the workforce shortages could undermine the programme – currently one in 11 posts are vacant.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: "Without the staff, there is no NHS.

"Ministers must say more about how they plan to address the staffing shortages."

There is also unease that other parts of the wider health system have been cut – the £20bn promise only applies to NHS England's budget for frontline health care.

It does not cover other areas such as training and public health. The money made available to councils to pay for initiatives such as smoking cessation and healthy weight programmes is being cut by more than 4% next year once inflation is taken into account.

What is more, the government has yet to publish its green paper on social care despite promising to in 2017.

Councils and care homes have warned care homes and home help services for the elderly and adults with disabilities are at risk because of insufficient funding.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which health managers, said the focus on out-of-hospital care should help relieve the pressures on hospitals.

But he added: "If we are serious about helping people to stay well and live independently for as long as possible it is vital that we also see appropriate investment and support for social care and public health."

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The organization helping to bring new drugs for rare diseases to market

A research team has reason to celebrate after the Food and Drug Administration granted it approval o..

A research team has reason to celebrate after the Food and Drug Administration granted it approval on Friday to begin a clinical trial for a new pediatric brain cancer drug, one that might have ended up overlooked by pharmaceutical companies.

The lead researcher on the team, Dr. Teresa Purzner has already beat impossible odds. The neurosurgeon and mom of three managed to get the approval in record time and with little money thanks to the help of a team of scientific altruists called SPARK.

The development of new medications in the United States is driven by pharmaceutical companies; researchers at universities rarely bring their discoveries to the bedside. For every 10,000 potential new medicines sitting on laboratory shelves around the country, only one will ever reach patients in need, according to the National Institutes of Health. Why? Because the process can take 10 to 15 years, costing upwards of a billion dollars per drug.

As a result, the number of new medications approved by the FDA has remained stagnant at about 31 per year over the past 10 years. The majority of these medications are similar to already existing ones, and many target diseases for which there are large markets — like hypertension and high cholesterol — and therefore, a return on investment.

Enter SPARK, a non-profit program created in partnership between Stanford University and volunteers from the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and investment industries, which helps academic researchers bring their discoveries to patients. Since its founding, SPARK has given special consideration to projects typically neglected by pharmaceutical companies, including rare diseases and diseases affecting children.

Purzner put her neurosurgery practice on pause to study medulloblastoma, a type of childhood brain cancer. Compared to diseases like hypertension and high cholesterol, which affect millions of Americans, medulloblastoma is rare, affecting only 250 to 500 children every year.

“Theres something especially poignant about seeing children —beautiful, wonderful, innocent things — and seeing the impact of the therapies we are giving them. The medications, the radiation therapies impact their cognition, their quality of life and their ability to function as independent adults in the future,” Purzner said in an interview with ABC News.

Purzner had a clear goal: to find a targeted therapy that could shut down the basic biochemical pathway responsible for the development of this cancer, and she did. She tested the potential drug in mice with good results, and she just received FDA approval to test it in clinical trials, which she will do through the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium. She did it all in five years and for a price tag of $500,000.

“To get from my initial findings in the lab to the point where the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium picked it up for clinical trials would have never happened without the help of SPARK… they gave me a clear pathway and made me believe it was possible,” said Purzner.

Every year, SPARK provides 10 teams with funding and expert mentorship to promote efficient and cost-effective drug development. (more…)

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Widowed father works with congresswoman on legislation to prevent maternal deaths

Sitting in the hospital room, mother and newborn baby were sound asleep.

“I was overjoyed. I reme..

Sitting in the hospital room, mother and newborn baby were sound asleep.

"I was overjoyed. I remember thinking my family is complete," Charles Johnson told ABC News.

But then he looked down and saw his wife Kiras catheter turn pink and then red with blood.

April 12, 2016 was supposed to be a joyous day for the Johnson family, but it turned into a "nightmare."

Ten hours later, Kira Johnson died as a result of internal bleeding following a cesarean section.

Now, two years later, Johnson is raising two children on his own and advocating to rectify the country's maternal health policies and regulations to prevent anyone else from sharing the same tragedy. Johnson took to Capitol Hill to share his wife's story before members of Congress, working alongside a congresswoman who experienced her own personal difficulties during pregnancy.

Charles and Kira Johnson welcomed their first son Charles V. in 2014. He was delivered via C-section. Two years later, the Johnson family relocated from Atlanta to Los Angeles and learned they were expecting their second baby boy.

"Kira and I had always wanted two boys," Johnson said. "I was excited."

The Johnsons decided to have Langston delivered at Cedars Sinai medical center, a non-profit hospital that is currently ranked as the eighth best hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Charles Johnson said his wife was in exceptional health and that she took all the necessary prenatal measures to ensure their second child would be born healthy. Since their first son was born via C-section, the doctor suggested the same for their second. (more…)

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States look to breathalyze convicted drunk drivers to reduce fatalities

This story is from Kaiser Health News

On Jan. 1, California joined the majority of states that ha..

This story is from Kaiser Health News

On Jan. 1, California joined the majority of states that have laws requiring drivers with drunken-driving convictions to install breathalyzers in vehicles they own or operate.

Researchers, public health advocates and political leaders believe these laws are helping reduce alcohol-related road deaths.

The gadgets, known as ignition interlock devices, are mounted on the steering wheel of a vehicle and prevent it from starting if the drivers blood-alcohol reading is above a predetermined level.

In California, the breathalyzers are mandatory only for repeat offenders. Five other states — Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana and Ohio — have similar laws. Thirty-two states and D.C. require the devices even for first-time offenders.

The advent of such laws across the United States in the past 15 years has been accompanied by some good news: Deaths involving drunken driving are only about half of what they were in the early 1980s, though they have ticked back up in recent years. The long-term decline is largely attributable to greater public awareness, stricter seat belt enforcement and the establishment in 2000 of a nationwide legal blood-alcohol threshold of 0.08 percent — far below the 0.15 percent standard commonly used before then.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), the author of the California law, said breathalyzers in cars will make roads safer than under the current law, which generally relies on license restrictions and suspensions.

“Weve seen people on a suspended license continue to drive and continue to cause destruction,” said Hill, who lost his best friend to drunken driving in the 1980s.

There is some evidence that the breathalyzers have an impact. Nationally, from 2006 to 2016, ignition-locking breathalyzers prevented 2.3 million attempts to drive by people with a blood-alcohol level at or above 0.08 percent — the legal threshold for driving under the influence — according to a 2017 report by the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Emma McGinty, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that laws requiring interlocks for all DUI offenders were associated with a 7 percent drop in the rate of fatal crashes caused by drunken drivers. Another study found that laws covering all offenders were associated with 15 percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities compared with states that have less stringent laws. (more…)

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