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Weekly News Summary – 4th April 2018

Cancer diagnosis

Welcome to this week’s edition of the news summary blog. This week’s edition covers the highlights in medical news from 24th March to 3rd April. This week, specialist paramedics were given the ability to prescribe medicines to patients, experts are calling for the government to vaccinate boys against the HPV vaccine and the NHS are introducing “one-stop shops” to speed up cancer diagnosis.

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New laws launched on Sunday mean that advanced paramedics in England will be able to prescribe medicines to those patients who do not need hospital treatment. Currently, up to seven out of ten patients seen by advanced care paramedics could be treated without having to go to hospital.  Advanced paramedics being able to prescribe medication also eliminates the need for the patient to see a GP in many cases, some advanced paramedics already work within GP practices seeing patients with urgent same-day problems. It is thought that around 700 paramedics will be trained to write prescriptions.

There has been a call to extend the HPV vaccine to boys as well as girls as cancer rates increase. New figures which will be released in the next few weeks will indicate that the rates of head and neck cancers in men are rising quickly. Currently, in the UK only young women are vaccinated against the HPV virus to protect them against cervical cancer. Boys are not offered the vaccine as health officials believe it is not cost-effective, despite the HPV virus having links to head and neck cancer. Previously, the rates of cervical cancer have been higher than the prevalence of oropharyngeal cancer in men but this is expected to change.

NHS England are aiming to introduce “one-stop shops” to speed up cancer diagnosis. Currently, patients face delays as they have non-specific symptoms. The one-stop clinics hope to diagnose the disease earlier and prevent patients from being referred to multiple centres to test for different forms of cancers. Some patients present with vague symptoms such as fatigue, sweats and generally feeling unwell. These patients would benefit from a rapid diagnostic and assessment centre with a range of specialties as currently patients with unclear symptoms struggle to access the care they need. The ten new centres that will be scattered across England aim to either diagnose or give patients the all-clear within 28 days.   

Words: Joelle Booth

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