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3 Key Medical News Stories: 11th October 2018

Mental health

Welcome to this week’s medical news round up! We will be bringing you the healthcare topics that have been under the microscope and making them relevant and useful to you as a medical school applicant.

Joining us this week: whistleblowing in the NHS, prostate cancer awareness and a minister for suicide prevention.

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Whistleblowing in the NHS

A review of an NHS Trust maternity department is underway as a series of infant deaths and injuries have occurred. The review is looking into over 100 cases of babies born between 2000 and 2017.

Staff from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust have reported bullying and an intimidating staff culture, which has left junior staff frightened to raise concerns or to ask questions about patient care. Nursing staff also report that being comfortable in asking questions depends on whoever the nurse in charge is on the day.

The review is ongoing but the trust are ensuring they are learning from these mistakes and that services are safe.

What can we learn from this?

This story highlights the importance of whistleblowing. Whistleblowing simply means an employee reporting something that is wrong in the workplace in the name of public interest.

Even though whistleblowing is encouraged and protected by law, many people are reluctant to do so. The bullying and uncomfortable atmosphere between staff in this case leads to others not wanting the label of a troublemaker, therefore allowing poor practice to continue.

Question to think about: what would you do if you saw a colleague acting unprofessionally or in a way that compromises patient safety?

Read here for how to answer this question in an MMI station – MMI Professional Judgement


Why not try one of our quizzes?


Prostate Cancer Awareness

The “Fry and Turnbull effect” refers to the increase in men who are receiving treatment for prostate cancer, because of the awareness Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull have raised.

The two well-known figures both received treatment for prostate cancer earlier this year and have spoken openly about their experiences, urging more men to seek help.

The number of patients receiving treatment for urological cancer in a four month period has increased by 3,929 (36%) compared to same period last year. Additionally, there was a 250% increase of visits to the NHS website prostate cancer page.

The NHS are focusing more funding into this area in order to cope with the new demand.

What can we learn from this?

As a whole, men tend not to engage as much with healthcare services as women do. This is for many different reasons and it does need to change, but it won’t happen overnight.

It is clear from this story that other men talking honestly about their experiences of healthcare has opened a door for many other men to seek the medical help that they need. Perhaps this method of raising awareness could be an answer for further public engagement.

Question to think about: what barriers to healthcare do different populations face and how can we overcome them?  As an example of barriers, look more into migrant entitlement to NHS services

Minister for Suicide Prevention

Coinciding with the first global mental health summit, Theresa May appoints Jackie Doyle–Price as the minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention.

The summit hosted on World Mental Health Day in London included representatives from over 50 countries.

The new minister aims to tackle the stigma surrounding suicide. She will ensure each local area in England has a plan in place and will look into the use of technology for identifying those in need of help. In addition, the Prime Minister has pledged £1.8 million to the Samaritans, a charity that provides a free helpline.

Many welcome this move, saying it will open doors for more conversations surrounding mental health to occur and ultimately increase support. Others hope this is not an empty promise, as there has simply not been enough support for mental health over the years and a severe lack of funding for services.

What can we learn from this?

Mental health is a huge area of concern for the NHS, the country and the world. In 2017, 5,821 suicides occurred in the UK. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.

Hopefully, this new ministerial role is a step in the right direction for mental health services. For now, mental health is an increasingly important issue. Ensure you’re up to date with current news and read more here – NHS Hot Topics: Mental Health

Words: Katie Burrell

Katie is a third year medical student at Lancaster University who also documents her life at medical school on her personal blog https://hopefulmedic.wordpress.com/

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