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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of the news in brief
Mental health bill 2006
A new mental health Bill, which focuses on protection for both patients and the public according to the Department of Health, has been published. The Bill, which is said to contain a simplified definition of mental disorder, includes supervised treatment in the community to ensure that patients comply with treatment when they are discharged from hospital, and gives new rights and extra protection to people who are unable to decide about their care. These new safeguards will affect around 5,000 people who have a serious mental health disorder, who until now have not been covered by existing mental health laws, according to the Department of Health. The Bournewood provisions, as they are known, include independent checks of whether patients should be detained, rights to appeal and a representative appointed to look after their rights.

GPs want patient permission
Many GPs are planning to ignore government requests to put patient records automatically on to a new national database, saying that it poses a risk to patient confidentiality. A poll of 1,026 GPs and hospital doctors, conducted by the Guardian newspaper, revealed that, while most agree that national electronic records would bring clinical benefits to patients, 51 per cent are unwilling to allow patient data to be uploaded without their permission. Some 60 per cent fear the system will be vulnerable to hackers and unauthorised access by public officials from outside the NHS. The results are a blow to ministers who had assumed that doctors would provide information for the database without first getting patients' permission. The British Medical Association (BMA) has said it favours an approach to electronic records that is based on ìobtaining patients' explicit consent rather than the system of implied consentî.

Nominations for patient group
The Patient and Public Involvement Programme and the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care are looking for patients and/or carers to join the group developing guidelines on medicines concordance. Patient or carer members will play a key role in making sure that patients' views, experiences and interests are taken into consideration during the development of guidelines and their recommendation to the NHS, according to the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). For more information, visit

NICE recommends AIs
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended the free availability of aromatase inhibitors (AIs) across England and Wales for women diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive early breast cancer. NICE recommendations were based on the results of seven AI trials. It states clearly that the choice of treatment should be made after open discussion between the responsible healthcare professionals and the woman about the risks and benefits of each treatment. Charity Breast Cancer Care has welcomed the recommendations saying they could make a real difference to thousands of post-menopausal women with hormone receptor-positives early-stage breast cancer.

Child mental healthcare dubbed a `scandal'
The Children's Commissioner, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, has said that treating children in adult psychiatric wards is a ìnational scandalî. A report to be published next week by the charity Young Minds warns there are not enough emergency beds for children with mental health problems. Young Minds' report, which was prepared for the Children's Commissioner, details the experiences of 16 young people aged 13-19 years old, who have been treated on adult wards. Most felt frightened and confused and were given little information about their treatment. According to the report, putting children in adult wards raises child protection issues.

30th September 2008


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