Welcome back to The Medic Portal’s news summary blog. This edition will cover the highlights in health and medical news from 7th to 13th November. This week has seen junior doctors lift the threat of strike action over new contracts, Virgin care win a £700 million contract to run 200 NHS services and a study published that suggests flavoured e-cigarettes produce dangerous levels of cancer-causing toxins.
Junior doctors have called off the threat of future industrial action and will re-engage with the government over their new contract. The British Medical Association (BMA) has ended its mandate for industrial action which means it would have to re-ballot members before industrial action could take place. Previous strikes planned for September were cancelled when health service leaders expressed concern that the NHS would not be able to cope with walk-outs and patient safety would be at risk. Dr Peter Campbell, acting chairman of the junior doctors committee, said that he wanted to negotiate with the government to ensure the contract includes a fair approach to weekend pay as well as securing the safety of both patients and doctors.
Virgin Care owned by Sir Richard Branson has won a £700 million contract to deliver 200 types of NHS and social care services to patients in Bath and north-east Somerset. The contract has caused concern about private health firms expanding their role into the provision of publicly funded health services. The contract means that from 1st April Virgin Care will become the prime provider of a wide range of care such as for those with diabetes, dementia and patients undergoing rehabilitation following operations. Some experts are concerned that this may result in care being compromised and a drop in the standard of healthcare.
Although a review by Public Health England concluded smoking e-cigarettes is safer than smoking, a new study has found that they could contain unacceptably dangerous levels of cancer-causing toxins. Researchers at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada worryingly found that when the flavoured liquid within e-cigarettes is rapidly heated then toxic aldehydes are formed. The study found that one puff of any of the flavoured e-cigarettes tested exposes the smoker to dangerously high levels of aldehydes that can be cancer causing. The aldehyde levels produced by the e-cigarettes are thought to be higher than the limit for hazardous chemical exposure outlined by American authorities. The results demonstrate the need for further investigations on the effects of e-cigarettes.
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