Abortion services in England must provide a more consistent service to women, the NHS says.
The call comes from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the official NHS advisory body – in its first abortion guidance.
The draft proposal says women should be offered an appointment within a week and a termination a week after that.
All services should also accept self-referrals rather than expecting women to see a GP first, it adds.
NICE said most services do this, but some hospitals still expect women to get a GP referral too, whereas private clinics that carry out abortions for the NHS tend to accept self-referrals.
This requirement does not change the need to get two doctors to agree to the termination – that is still required, but can be done by the clinic's own doctors.
All services should be able to offer women the option of surgical or medical abortions and if they cannot, they should refer women to a service that can.
Guidance 'should address barriers'
The guidance also reflects the change in the rules – announced last year – that women who have a medical abortion before 10 weeks should be able to have the second of the two pills at home, to avoid the risk of women miscarrying while on the journey home.
Paul Chrisp, of NICE, said: "Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is an important part of reproductive health for many women, which is why it's essential that providers are able to offer consistent support and advice."
Prof Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which helped to draw up the guidance, added it should "help address significant barriers that women experience".
But Clare McCarthy, of the campaign group Right to Life, said the guidance would have the effect of "rushing" women through a termination which could cause "post-abortion regret".
The proposals are out for consultation until the end of May.
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‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech
Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..
Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.
The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".
They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.
Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.
How does it work?
The mind-reading technology works in two stages.
First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.
Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.
This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".
Why do it like that?
You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.
However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)
Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab
More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..
More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.
It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.
He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".
Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.
Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.
But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.
The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:
- The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
- The comparable figure for France was 600,000
- The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
- In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine
Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.
It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)
No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says
Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..
Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.
Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.
The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.
The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.
The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.
The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.
It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.
As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.
The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.
For babies: (more…)
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