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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of NHS and healthcare stories.

MOT for doctors

Doctors could face new MOT-type tests under new plans laid down by the government, which is planning a review into patient safety as part of its Dr Harold Shipman inquiry. The new measures will aim to provide doctors with tougher tests in a bid to assess their ability to practise medicine. Health Secretary, John Reid, said that the review would produce “an effective system for revalidation” and revise the role and function of the General Medical Council – which should be chiefly to protect patients. “Only by having a robust system for testing doctors' fitness to practise can we increase patient confidence,” he stated.

European recruitment barriers

Skilled workers from Central European countries, including doctors and nurses, are facing employment barriers, according to new findings. The research, conducted by the University of Manchester for recruitment company, Vedior, revealed that scepticism about the relative value of qualifications, bureaucracy and language problems all hamper those seeking work in the UK. A Polish agency also revealed that the lack of a European standard for doctors and nurses causes difficulties in blending teams.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals report

“No one problem” caused the financial crisis that hit the Foundation trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals, according to the latest analysis. A report, commissioned by Monitor, the regulator of Foundation trusts, concluded that “weaknesses in the previous operations that then crumbled under a barrage of changes” were to blame for the Trust's spiralling debt of some £11.3m.

Reid turns author

Health Secretary, John Reid, is expected to call for the acceleration of public sector reform in a new book to be launched this week. Limits of the markets, constraints of the state, published by think-tank the Social Market Foundation, will argue for the conceptual case of extending market disciplines to the public sector. Through greater patient choice and new financial incentives, Reid notes, the NHS can learn from the market without importing the market's ethos or the market itself. He will also attempt to make a clear differentiation between Labour and the Tories' health policies.

Co-proxamol withdrawn

UK drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has withdrawn the painkiller co-proxamol from the market due to concern over the high level of suicides undertaken by using an overdose of the medication. The MHRA said that the drug will be phased out over the next couple of years but people do not need to stop taking the drug yet. It is estimated that co-proxamol causes approximately 400 deaths by accidental and intentional overdose per year.

30th September 2008

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