English people living with a rare eye condition may be forced to move to Scotland or Wales to “save their sight”, the country’s leading charity for the blind has said, after the NHS refused to fund routine access to treatments.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said it was considering legal action over NHS England’s decision not to recommended routine use of the drugs Humira and Remicade for patients with a severe form of the inflammatory eye condition, uveitis.
Both drugs are routinely available in Scotland and Wales and their use is standard practice in many other countries. A trial of Humira for one group of paediatric uveitis patients, taking place in the UK, was stopped early because overwhelming evidence of the drugs’ benefit meant it was deemed unethical to continue giving some children placebo.
However, NHS England concluded there was “not sufficient evidence” to recommend routine use.
Eating disorder patients' lives at risk due to long waits for NHS treatment (The Guardian: 14 June 2015)
The lives of people seriously ill with eating disorders are being put at risk because they have to wait up to three years for NHS treatment.
Experts warn that specialist services are struggling to cope with a growing caseload and are so overstretched they have to prioritise patients with anorexia, because they are at greatest risk, ahead of those with bulimia – even though their condition is seriously affecting their lives.
Patients forced to endure long delays are at greater risk of serious damage to their health because it deteriorates while they are waiting. They also have a smaller chance of making a full recovery.
Some people wait so long they are forced to pay for help privately or get help abroad – in South Africa, the US and elsewhere – to tackle conditions that have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Psychiatrists who treat people with eating disorders – often girls and young women – say NHS services are so inadequate that in some places patients who are very unwell have to lose more weight to qualify for treatment.
Mental health could retain Cinderalla status under Tories, warns ex-minister (The Guardian: 3 June 2015)
Mental health care will remain “a Cinderella service” and not get its long-planned equality with physical health in the NHS because the Conservatives will deny it the money it needs, the MP who was the minister for mental health until the election is warning.
Significant recent progress to improve mental health will stall, and a “historic opportunity” to ditch its status as the “poor relation” of physical ailments will be lost, if ministers do not put more than the promised £8bn extra into the NHS by 2020, Norman Lamb said.
The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate fears plans for new waiting time targets for people with conditions such as anxiety and depression to access treatment will be scrapped unless ministers plough £3.5bn into mental health over the next five years.
Obese patients denied surgery by NHS rationing (GP: 10 June 2015)
GP leaders slammed the ‘rationing’ of NHS services and warned that the restrictions on access to care appeared to breach the NHS Constitution.
NHS England’s national commissioning criteria for bariatric surgery could prevent GPs from referring patients for bariatric surgery in line with NICE guidance.
The NICE clinical guideline Obesity: Identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in children, young people and adults was issued in November 2014.
It recommends bariatric surgery as a treatment option for patients with obesity if they ‘have a BMI of 40kg/m2 or more’ or a BMI ‘between 35kg/m2 and 40kg/m2 and other significant disease’.
It adds that ‘all appropriate non-surgical measures have been tried’ and the patient ‘has been receiving or will receive’ intensive management in a 'tier three' service.
The NICE guidance does not impose any time restrictions on access to care. But NHS England’s commissioning policy stipulates that the patient must have ‘received and complied’ with a tier three or four weight-loss management service ‘for a duration of 12-24 months’ in order to qualify for bariatric surgery. It also dictates that the patient must have been morbidly obese – BMI 40 or higher – ‘for at least five years’ to be eligible for the potentially lifesaving treatment.
NHS vasectomies rationed as health service forced to make cuts (Daily Mirror: 25 May 2015)
Free vasectomies are being rationed in some parts of the country, as the NHS is forced to cut costs.
One commissioning group has told GP practices to cap the number of snips offered to patients.
Each surgery in Basildon and Brentwood, in Essex, has been sent a letter assigning them a specific amount of vasectomies for the 2015/2016 financial year, ranging from 11 to one.
Three surgeries are believed to have been told they can refer just one man a year for the procedure, which is a permanent method of contraception.
NHS crisis: Damning report reveals nurses are too stretched to feed and care for patients (Daily Mirror: 13 April 2015)
Patients are being denied pain relief, food and water due to NHS cuts, a damning report has revealed.
Disturbingly, 65% of nurses said the sick are missing out on basic care because of the chronic understaffing.
It shames the Tories – who have slashed the health budget by £20billion – as they launch their election manifesto.
The Patients Association said the Unison report filled it “with horror”.
Now David Cameron’s boasts about the NHS being in good health are exposed as a sick joke.
The explosive report reveals vulnerable people are being left for hours because nurses are so overstretched that they are having to take responsibility for more patients than is safe.
The frail and elderly are going without basics such as food and water because of staff shortages.
NHS treatment cuts 'lack consistency' (Laboratory Talk: 2 March 2015)
During 2011, England’s NHS was tasked with finding £20 billion of efficiency savings over four years, in part by reducing the use of ineffective, overused or inappropriate procedures.
However, a report published today by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) has found that an absence of clear national guidance about which procedures to perform less has caused inconsistency among NHS commissioning groups.
“Our research revealed a lack of consistency between commissioning organisations regarding which procedures were cut,” said Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, from the School of Public Health at ICL, who led the study.
“With little national guidance about which procedures to remove or restrict funding for and under which circumstances, commissioners may be turning to locally developed, unofficial lists and criteria of low-value treatments,” Coronini-Cronberg said.
“This urgently needs to be addressed to avoid local variations. Arbitrary decision-making needs to be replaced with objective, consistent, evidence-based policies.”
Women 'denied fertility treatment due to NHS cuts' (ITV News: 23 October 2014)
NHS trusts are denying thousands of women across Britain fertility treatment in a bid to cut costs, a health watchdog has warned.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said couples struggling to conceive are being subjected to unfair "postcode lotteries", causing "widespread inequality".
Meanwhile fertility groups have warned many women are having to resort to costly private care because NHS provision is so patchy and hard to access.
Nice warned that fewer than one in five commissioning groups are paying for the full number of IVF cycles recommended.
And the commissioning group covering mid Essex will not fund IVF treatment unless there are "clinically exceptional circumstances".
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at Nice, said: "Infertility can have a potentially devastating effect on people's lives - it can cause significant distress, depression and possibly lead to the breakdown of relationships.
Two-thirds of Britons with depression get no treatment (The Guardian: 13 August 2014)
Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all – a situation the nation would not tolerate if they had cancer, according to the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
While the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged to deliver "parity of esteem" for mental and physical health services, the treatment gap is now so huge that it may prove impossible to bridge in the current financial climate, said Professor Simon Wessely of King's College London in his first interview since election to the post.
"People are still routinely waiting for – well, we don't really know, but certainly more than 18 weeks, possibly up to two years, for their treatment and that is routine in some parts of the country. Some children aren't getting any treatment at all – literally none. That's what's happening. So although we have the aspiration, the gap is now so big and yet there is no more money," he said.