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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round of NHS and healthcare stories

Patient access to consultants may be limited
Patients' ability to see an NHS consultant is at risk, according to the leader of theUK's 52,000 junior doctors. Dr Jo Hilborne, told the British Medical Association's annual junior doctors' conference, that the government plans to replace NHS consultants with `accredited specialists' - a new grade of doctor, with less autonomy and reduced expertise. The BMA believes that despite its introduction as a money-saving move, it is unlikely to save anything due to training costs and payment for unsocial working hours.

Dr Hilborne said: ìIf a subconsultant grade is introduced, this will place another barrier between the patient and their consultant.î

New chair appointed to the medical research council
Science and innovation minister, Lord Sainsbury, has announced the appointment of Sir John Chisholm as the next chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC). Sir John, chair of defence technology company QinetiQ, will take up the four-year post on 1 October, 2006 as successor to Sir Anthony Cleaver who retires at the end of September. Sir John said: ìI am passionately committed to ensuring that research in the UK continues to thrive, and I look forward to building on Sir Anthony's excellent work by helping to realise the maximum potential for the UK's medical research.î

First mental health trusts get NHS foundation trust status
Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts, has today authorised the first mental health NHS foundation trusts. They have been named as Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and South Staffordshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The authorisation came into effect from 1 May 2006 and brings the total number of foundation trusts to 35. William Moyes, Monitor chairman, said: ìNHS foundation trusts status will allow them [mental health trusts] to further develop services, taking advantage of the freedoms that foundation trust status provides.î

Man to receive Herceptin from NHS
A man who had a mastectomy in a bid to beat cancer has been granted access to Roche's cancer drug, Herceptin, by the Maidstone Weald NHS trust. Stuart Weaver, 37, from Maidstone in Kent, had been refused help from his private health company on the grounds that Herceptin treatment would not be valid under the terms of his scheme. Mr Weaver told BBC News: ìI've been told what Herceptin can do for me, so now the next step will be to sit down with my oncologist, and he will tell me what the plan of action is over the next year.î

30th September 2008

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