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Training Britains doctors — in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — Brexit uncertainty isnt stopping the U.K.s National Health Service from hiring doct..

WARSAW, Poland — Brexit uncertainty isnt stopping the U.K.s National Health Service from hiring doctors from beyond its borders — including from the EU.

Enter firms like Paragona, which calls itself “the leading global provider of international solutions to staff shortage problems for the healthcare sector.” The Polish company won a contract with the NHS a few weeks agoas part of the health services “international GP recruitment program,” and is training its first batch of 100 EU doctors to practice in England.

The general practitioners, who come from Spain, Lithuania, Greece and Poland, are enrolled at a campus in the small town of Piaseczno, 20 kilometers south of Warsaw.

“We provide EU GPs with a 12-20 week residential course in Poland and when in the U.K., the doctors undergo additional training under the supervision of a mentor,” Paragona Board Chairman Adam Ringer said.

The training is intensive, with five-day, 40 hour-per-week courses that include simulated surgeries, language courses and classes on British culture.

“Whatever happens in relation to Brexit, the NHS will continue to need excellent doctors from all over Europe” — Rachel Souter, head of international recruitment at NHS England

Conor Crowley, a teacher at the campus, highlighted how this is done. “In Leicestershire, for example, there is a different word for cabbage, and 200 local words, which a foreign GP will not be expected to know, but to be aware of,” he said. “Slavic culture is a bit more direct than the Brits tend to be.”

Doctors are also made to watch classic British soap operas such as “Emmerdale” and “Coronation Street.”

The NHS has decided to throw (Brexit) caution to the wind because of an acute staffing crisis.

While it is Europes biggest employer — with a workforce of 1.1 million — 100,000 jobs are unfilled, 7,000 of them family doctor positions. The latest statistics show the health service had the equivalent of 28,596 fully qualified GPs working in England in December 2018 — 593 fewer than 12 months earlier.

This has had a negative effect on patient care, as well as the wellbeing of medical professionals. “Unfortunately, while workload in general practice is soaring we are hemorrhaging family doctors from the NHS,” Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said.

There arent enough British doctors to fill the gap, leading the NHS to launch its international recruitment scheme, a £100 million plan that launched in 2016 to find 500 family doctors from abroad to work in England by 2020. This target was increased to 2,000 in 2017. Eight companies are part of the agreement, with most based in the U.K.

The initial focus has been on GPs from the European Economic Area, and Paragona is doing its best to attract doctors from across the Continent.

“During the course we provide accommodation, meals, sports activities, and grant scholarships for families,” Kinga Łozińska, Paragona Polska CEO, said. The company also helps GPs with resettlement, finding a school and opening a bank account when they get to the U.K.

However, none of the doctors enrolled wanted to talk about the course.

“The GPs are a bit nervous about Brexit. But we have written confirmation from the head of the NHS England recruitment service, guaranteeing the job,” Paragona Chairman Ringer said.

The company even displays the letter from the NHS, dated March 13, on its website. “I would like to assure all general practitioners from other European countries who are welcome and that the terms, conditions of the offer and the employment contract they sign will not be broken or changed to their disadvantage,” wrote Rachel Souter, head of international recruitment at NHS England.

“Whatever happens in relation to Brexit, the NHS will continue to need excellent doctors from all over Europe.”

In February, the NHS pledged to extend the scheme for “the duration of the five-year period 2019/20-2023/24.” It also expanded its recruitment range to include Australia and other non-EEA countries, GPOnline reported.

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One-in-five suffers mental health condition in conflict zones: new UN report

More than one-in-five people living in conflict-affected areas suffers from a mental illness, accord..

More than one-in-five people living in conflict-affected areas suffers from a mental illness, according to a new UN-backed report, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for increased, sustained investment in mental health services in those zones.

Around 22 per cent of those affected, suffer depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to an analysis of 129 studies published in The Lancet – a United Kingdom-based peer-reviewed medical journal.

“The new estimates, together with already available practical tools for helping people with mental health conditions in emergencies, add yet more weight to the argument for immediate and sustained investment, so that mental and psychosocial support is made available to all people in need living through conflict and its aftermath,” said study author Mark van Ommeren, who works in WHOs Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

The study also shows that about nine per cent of conflict-affected populations have a moderate to severe mental health condition; substantially higher than the global estimate for these mental health conditions in the general population.

“Depression and anxiety appeared to increase with age in conflict settings, and depression was more common among women than men”, according to the study.

The revised estimates use data from 39 countries published between 1980 and August 2017, categorized cases as mild, moderate or severe. Natural disasters and public health emergencies, such as recent Ebola virus outbreaks in Africa, were not included.

The findings suggested that past studies underestimated the burden of mental health conditions in conflict-affected areas,

showing increased rates of severe, moderate and mild mental health issues, with the latter being the most prevalent.

“I am confident that our study provides the most accurate estimates available today of the prevalence of mental health conditions in areas of conflict”, said lead author of the study Fiona Charlson of the University of Queensland, Australia and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in the United States.

In 2016, there were 53 ongoing conflicts in 37 countries, meaning that 12 per cent of the worlds population was living in an active conflict zone – an all-time high. Moreover, the fact that nearly 69 million people globally have been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict, makes it the highest global number since the Second World War. (more…)

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GM fungus rapidly kills 99% of malaria mosquitoes, study suggests

A fungus – genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin – can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosqu..

A fungus – genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin – can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria, a study suggests.

Trials, which took place in Burkina Faso, showed mosquito populations collapsed by 99% within 45 days.

The researchers say their aim is not to make the insects extinct but to help stop the spread of malaria.

The disease, which is spread when female mosquitoes drink blood, kills more than 400,000 people per year.

Worldwide, there are about 219 million cases of malaria each year.

Conducting the study, researchers at the University of Maryland in the US – and the IRSS research institute in Burkina Faso – first identified a fungus called Metarhizium pingshaense, which naturally infects the Anopheles mosquitoes that spread malaria.

The next stage was to enhance the fungus. "They're very malleable, you can genetically engineer them very easily," Prof Raymond St Leger, from the University of Maryland, told BBC News.

They turned to a toxin found in the venom of a species of funnel-web spider in Australia.

The genetic instructions for making the toxin were added to the fungus's own genetic code so it would start making the toxin once it was inside a mosquito.

"A spider uses its fangs to pierce the skin of insects and inject toxins, we replaced the fangs of spider with Metarhizium," Prof St Leger explained. (more…)

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Journalist ‘no-platformed’ by GPs over Enoch Powell tweet

The Royal College of GPs has rescinded Julia Hartley-Brewer's invitation to speak at its 2019 c..

The Royal College of GPs has rescinded Julia Hartley-Brewer's invitation to speak at its 2019 conference after doctors complained about a tweet defending Enoch Powell.

Hundreds of people signed a petition calling for the cancellation over her "highly controversial views".

Ms Hartley-Brewer said "Twitter offence archaeologists" were punishing her.

The RCGP said it "promotes inclusivity" and her views were "too much at odds" with its "core values".

Ms Hartley-Brewer had been expected to join a panel of guests in October for the conference being held in Liverpool.

But more than 700 people signed a petition calling for members of the RCGP to "boycott" her presence, noting her "controversial" views.

In a deleted tweet from 2016, Ms Hartley-Brewer said "Powell wasn't a racist" and referred to Tony Blair calling him "one of the great figures of 20th century British politics".

She also said: "I'm not defending Powell, I just don't see anything in the Rivers speech that he got wrong."

Enoch Powell was an MP most famous for his 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, where he said by permitting mass immigration the country was "heaping up its own funeral pyre".

Responding to the RCGP's decision for the Spectator, Ms Hartley-Brewer said she was "commenting on the accuracy of his predictions" about integration, rather than making a moral judgment which endorsed his views. (more…)

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