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Weekly News Summary – 16th January 2016

Welcome back to The Medic Portal’s weekly news summary. This edition will cover the key stories in health news from 9th to 15th January. This week data indicated that a record number of NHS trusts raised major alerts due to increasing bed shortages, scientists have developed a urine test that could reveal how healthy your diet is and the average patient in the UK suffering with depression is now taking antidepressants for 50% longer than they did in twenty years ago.

NHS trusts
NHS trusts raised major alerts as the increasing bed shortages led to a high number of patients experiencing delayed care.

This week sixty-six out of 152 trusts in the NHS raised major alerts as the increasing bed shortages led to a high number of patients experiencing delayed care. Major alerts are raised by hospitals when they struggle to see patients quickly enough. To cope with demand hospitals have to call in extra staff and cancel routine treatments and operations. Official data released, as well as leaked figures, show that one in five patients admitted to emergency care had to wait at least four hours for a bed and almost one in four patients waited over four hours to be seen in A&E. Chris Hopson, chief of executive of NHS Providers has said that the figures highlight the vulnerable position that the health service is in.

A urine test developed by UK researchers could reveal how healthy your diet is. Researchers wanted to see if they could develop a way to determine someone’s diet, as patient self-reporting is often unreliable. The scientists found that urine tests were robust enough to identify dietary patterns through the level of 19 metabolites. The study completed only included a very small sample size so further tests will need to be completed on a wider number of participants. It is hoped that in the future the new tests could be used by GPs, nutritionists and those conducting clinical trials.

The average patient now takes antidepressants for 50 per cent longer than they did in the 1990s, a new study has shown. The prescribing of antidepressants in the UK is currently risking at 7% each year which has caused concern that either depression is on the rise or doctors are handing out antidepressants too liberally. The increase is due to increasing number of patients who are taking antidepressants for years at a time or returning to take medication when their lives are difficult. The average time that someone is on antidepressants is six months, where as in 1995 this was only four months.

Words: Joelle

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