The Health News United Kingdom September 26 2017


  • HIV Scotland calls compulsory sexual health lessons in schools over fear that young people are missing out on vital information to prevent HIV.
  • The number of patients in Emergency rooms facing long waits for treatment is likely to hit record levels. From January to March 2012, 15 patients waited for more than 12 hours. In 2017, this figure was 100 times greater, at 1,597.
  • Women using epilepsy drug, sodium valproate, have not been warned about the dangers of taking it during pregnancy – carrying 10% chance of causing physical abnormalities in children born to mothers who take it.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th of  September 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News

A charity has called for mandatory sexual health lessons in schools over fears that youngsters are missing out on vital information to prevent HIV. HIV Scotland said an average of two young people between the ages of  fifteen and twenty four north of the border were diagnosed with the virus each month. It claimed young people lacked “consistent” access to HIV information.
It also argued that lessons on sexual health did not have consistency with other areas of the curriculum. The charity wants discussion about HIV to be a fundamental part of relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) lessons to help pupils increase their understanding of HIV and minimise their risk.

In a report, it stated: “Education is the fundamental tool in equipping young people with the information they need to reduce their risk of HIV infection, and a means of combating the stigmatising attitudes towards people living with HIV that continue to prevail within society.”
It noted that sexual health lessons in Scotland were not compulsory and found that “inconsistencies exist across Scotland’s thirty two local authorities on how lessons are taught, the resources that are used and the level of content related to HIV”. Calling for RSHP lessons to be improved “urgently”, the report issued various recommendations for change.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish government would carefully consider the report. She said: “Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood education is an integral part of the health and wellbeing curriculum and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how best to deliver the curriculum based on local needs.There are currently five thousand one hundred thirty four people diagnosed with HIV living in Scotland.

Emergency departments risk “grinding to a halt” this winter, say medical leaders. They warn that the number of patients facing long waits for treatment is likely to hit record levels. Doctor Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said staff were dangerously overstretched, as NHS figures showed the number of people waiting more than twelve hours for treatment during the coldest months of the year has soared. From January to March two thousand twelve, fifteen patients waited for more than twelve hours – in two thousand seventeen this figure was one hundred times greater, at one thousand five hundred ninety seven.

Last winter was the worst on record for delays, with nearly two hundred thousand patients waiting for longer than the four-hour target. Hassan said emergency services will be under even greater strain this year, with patients forced to wait longer for basic treatments such as pain relief.

An extra five thousand beds are needed to “to get us through what will be a pretty awful winter”, said Hassan. “Over the last five years there has been a continued reduction in bed numbers yet an increase in patients needing to be admitted. As a result, bed occupancy is now at ninety two percent – significantly higher than the safe level of eighty five percent – which is having a knock-on effect on waiting times.” A lack of funding, especially in social care, and staff shortages are preventing patients from being admitted swiftly and undermining safety, he said. “There is not enough money in the system to get social care packages, patients are delayed in hospital who should be at home, there are not enough acute hospital beds.” A Department of Health spokesperson said A&E departments had received an extra one hundred million pounds to prepare for winter, in addition to two billion pounds of social care funding.

A survey has found that women on a powerful epilepsy drug have not been warned

about the dangers of taking in during pregnancy. The drug, sodium valproate, carries a ten percent chance of causing physical abnormalities in children born to mothers who take it.
Babies exposed to it also have a forty percent risk of developmental problems, including autism, low IQ and learning disabilities.The medicine is prescribed in the UK under brand names including Epilim, Episenta and Epival, and effectively controls seizures in epilepsy sufferers.

About  twenty thousand children have been harmed by valproate medications since the nineteen seventies and a toolkit was introduced in February last year after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) told watchdogs to improve patient information. But a survey of two thousand female epilepsy sufferers conducted over the past month revealed sixty eight per cent of the four hundred seventy five polled currently taking the drug had not received any materials from the toolkit – which includes printed warnings in GP surgeries. The survey, commissioned by Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy, also found one in six of those taking sodium valproate did not know of the risks, while twenty one per cent had not had a discussion initiated by a healthcare professional about the issue. The charities want the Government to change the way repeat prescriptions of the drug are issued for women of childbearing age, saying they should not be routinely renewed for more than a year without a face-to-face consultation – which should include information about the potential dangers.

In the UK, there are more than six hundred thousand people with epilepsy.

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