Prescription charges to rise by 20p

Prescription charges to rise by 20p in England

The cost of prescription charges in England will rise by 20p to £7.85 from 1 April, the federal government has announced.

In other parts of the united kingdom, prescriptions are free.

The British Medical Association has previously said the present system is “unfair” and desires prescription charges to be scrapped in England.

Those exempt from charges in England include children under 16, income-related benefit claimants and pregnant women.

Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011.

The health minister Lord Howe said: “The govt. is investing greater than £12.5bn of additional money inside the NHS and we’re on target to save lots of £5bn over this financial year, all of that allows you to be re-directed into front-line care.

“In England, around 90% of prescription items are dispensed free.”

The government said that they had frozen the cost of prescription pre-payment certificates for an extra year. This indicates anyone who needs 14 or more prescription items in a year can get each of the prescriptions they want for a standard cost of £2 a week.

Lord Howe added: “We’ve got also increased the optical voucher values by 1% to assist eligible patients continue to get access to glasses and phone lenses.”

Neal Patel, spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said the inside track of the rise in prescription charges was “deeply disappointing”.

“Hitting patients within the pocket once they are already tormented by long-term illnesses heaps unfairness on top of illness.

“We all know from chatting with patients of working age who pay for his or her prescriptions that that cost generally is a major barrier to them getting the life-saving medicines they wish.

He added: “We’re deeply concerned that some people should make choices about their health in keeping with their ability to pay.”

Joseph Clift, policy manager on the British Heart Foundation, said that the growing financial burden of pricey prescription charges couldn’t be ignored.

“People living with heart disease, or vulnerable to the disease, have to be concentrating on recuperating and keeping well – not worrying about how they will pay for his or her next vital prescription.”

‘Big leap’ towards curing blindness

‘Big leap’ towards curing blindness in stem cell study

The prospect of reversing blindness has made a major leap, in response to scientists inside the UK.

An animal study within the journal Nature Biotechnology showed the portion of the attention which actually detects light would be repaired using stem cells.

The team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London say human trials at the moment are, for the primary time, a pragmatic prospect.

Experts described it as a “significant breakthrough” and “huge leap” forward.

Photoreceptors are the cells in the retina which react to light and convert it into an electrical signal which can be sent to the brain.

However, these cells can die off in some causes of blindness such as Stargardt’s disease and age-related macular degeneration.

There are already trials in people to use stem cells to replace the “support” cells in the eye which keep the photoreceptors alive.

Blind mice

Now the London-based team have shown it is possible to replace the light-sensing cells themselves, raising the prospect of reversing blindness.

They have used a new technique for building retinas in the laboratory. It was used to collect thousands of stem cells, which were primed to transform into photoreceptors, and injected them into the eyes of blind mice.

The study showed that these cells could hook up with the existing architecture of the eye and begin to function.

However, the effectiveness is still low. Only about 1,000 cells out of a transplant of 200,000 actually hooked up with the rest of the eye.

Lead researcher Prof Robin Ali told the BBC News website: “This is a real proof of concept that photoreceptors can be transplanted from an embryonic stem cells source and it give us a route map to now do this in humans.

“That’s why we’re so excited, five years is a now a realistic aim for starting a clinical trial.”

Rods, blue, and cones, blue-green, detect light and create electrical signals which are sent to the brain.

The eye is one of the most advanced fields for stem cell research.

It is relatively simple as the light sensing cells only have to pass their electrical message on to one more cell in order to get their message to the brain, unlike an attempt to reverse dementia which would require cells to hook up with far more cells all across the brain.

The immune system is also very weak in the eye so there is a low chance of the transplant being rejected. A few cells can also make a big difference in the eye. Tens of thousands of stem cells in the eye could improve vision, but that number of stem cells would not regenerate a much larger organ such as a failing liver.

Prof Chris Mason, from University College London, told the BBC: “I think they have made a major step forward here, but the efficiency is still too low for clinical uses.

“At the moment the numbers of tiny and it will take quite a bit of work to get the numbers up and then the next question is ‘Can you do it in man?’

“But I think it is a vital breakthrough which may lead to cell therapies and will give a miles expanded knowledge on the right way to cure blindness.”

Dr Marcelo Rivolta, from the University of Sheffield, said the study was a “huge leap” forward for treating blindness and will have implications across stem cell research.

Public to hitch cancer cure hunt

Citizen Science: Public to hitch cancer cure hunt

The public will be ready to help discover a cure for cancer, including skin cancer

Giants of the technology world and cancer researchers are teaming as much as give you the way to let most of the people hunt for cures for cancer.

It is an try to mirror many of the success in unleashing the general public seeking objects in space.

Cancer Research UK, in conjunction with Amazon, Facebook and Google, is attempting to get people to look for mutations in DNA which bring about cancer.

The data has to be analysed by eye, but there aren’t enough scientists.

There have been rapid progress in understanding the precise sequence of a tumour’s DNA.

Combining this knowledge from multiple tumours allows researchers to seek for the critical mutations which turn a traditional healthy portion of the body right into a deadly cancer.

But the quantity of knowledge involved is giant and computers cannot find the delicate differences which can give clues to the genetic causes of cancers, which in turn can result in treatments.

Researchers looks at graphs like this to indicate which mutations are common in cancers

Prof Carlos Caldas, from the University of Cambridge, said: “Future cancer patients will receive treatment targeted to the genetic fingerprint in their tumour and we are hoping this exciting project will bring forward the day this becomes a reality.

“We’re making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops.

“However the clues to why some drugs will work and a few won’t, are held in data which must be analysed by the human eye – and this may take years.

“By harnessing the collective power of citizen scientists we’ll accelerate the invention of recent how you can diagnose and treat cancer a lot more precisely.”

Researchers, computer programmers and games designers will meet this weekend to locate far of converting the dense raw data into something more “game-like”.

The chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Dr Harpal Kumar, said: “We’re bringing together the cream of the UK’s technology specialists with our scientists as a collective force to accelerate cures for cancer outside the laboratory.

“This exciting event will provide a channel to assist our scientists discover new genetic drivers of cancer that may otherwise take years to spot.”

They aim to have the project up and running by the summer.

Free health checks ‘will save lives’

Free health checks ‘will save lives’, Jeremy Hunt says

Public health officials say the checks could prevent heart attacks and diabetes

Hundreds of lives can be saved if the NHS and native authorities did more to encourage people to take in free health checks, the health secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt was highlighting the NHS Health Check programme, that is led by Public Health England (PHE).

A PHE review said checking the blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and lifestyle of folk between 40 and 74 could curb diabetes and heart attacks.

Health charities welcomed the move to enhance the choice of checks.

Before local authorities took over responsibility from Primary Care Trusts for commissioning the checks in April, there has been considerable variation in how widely they were offered.

PHE has launched a ten-point plan to assist councils provide them to twenty% in their eligible local population a year – 15 million people by 2018/19.

‘Life-saving opportunity’

And PHE will soon launch a site where will probably be possible to expose what number health check offers are being made by each local authority.

Mr Hunt said: “Around 15 million people in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check which could identify serious conditions early and add years to their life.

“I’d desire to see all 40-74 year olds taking over this potentially life-saving opportunity. And I’d wish to see the NHS and native authorities encouraging people of their area to become involved. Shall we save 650 lives a year if there has been full take-up.

“We’re an ageing population and focused on our health early is very important to living a protracted and prosperous life.”

The programme is concentrated on preventing conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

The PHE review said the checks could prevent 1,600 heart attacks and four,000 cases of diabetes a year.

Director of healthiness for PHE Professor Kevin Fenton said: “We must do more to extend uptake and referral to acceptable risk management services, particularly in those communities at greatest risk, to take away blocks in processes that get within the way and ensure the programme is of consistent high-quality around the country.”

The chief executive of Diabetes UK, Barbara Young, said: “We’re delighted Public Health England is taking the NHS Health Check programme seriously.

She added: “These conditions could have a devastating effect on people’s lives and the fundamental fact is that the more folks who have an NHS Health Check, the more lives might possibly be saved.”

‘Wrong’ immune response aids TB

‘Wrong’ immune response aids TB

Tuberculosis attacks the lungs

Some bacteria, including tuberculosis, may be able to invade since the body launches the ‘wrong’ immune response, say researchers.

Instead of fighting off tuberculosis, those with a severe infection produce a protein which attacks viruses, the journal Science reports.

About 8.7 million persons are infected with tuberculosis per annum.

The findings may explain why viruses could make people more prone to bacterial infections.

A spring peak in tuberculosis infections could be associated with the consequences of viruses circulating in winter, experts suggested.

US researchers first identified the phenomenon using leprosy – that is resulting from an analogous bacterium to tuberculosis.

Looking at skin lesions in leprosy patients, the team found that two different immune proteins were present.

In people with a milder sort of the disease, they discovered a protein linked to a bacterial immune response – interferon-gamma.

Whereas in patients with a more serious type of leprosy, a protein linked to a viral response – interferon-beta – was prominent.

Further work showed the genes for interferon-beta – the virus-fighting protein – were more frequently expressed within the blood of tuberculosis patients with more severe disease.

In disguise

The researchers said in people with severe disease, the body was responding as though it was attacking an epidemic, enabling the bacteria to stay hidden and replicate unchallenged within cells.

Not only is interferon-beta an ineffective weapon against bacteria, it may block the action of interferon gamma – that is when bacteria can gain a foothold, the researchers said.

In the face of a true viral infection it’s going to mean that the awareness of the immune system is diverted letting a bacterial infection in.

Prof Robert Modlin, a dermatology and microbiology expert on the University of California, La, said the study raises the chance that a decrease or increase of 1 of those two proteins could shift the balance from mild to more serious disease.

“We may find that therapeutic interventions to dam or enhance specific interferon responses could be a great method to alter the balance in favour of protection against bacterial diseases.”

The results might help to give an explanation for why outbreaks of tuberculosis in winter corresponding to one currently spreading among homeless groups in L. a. are quick to take hold.

A potent combination of individuals sleeping in close quarters in shelters, flu outbreaks diverting the body’s immune response to the viral setting and an absence of vitamin D from sunlight, which also impacts the immune response, is also accountable, they suggested.

“With TB at the rise, this scenario could play out not just in cities inside the United states of america but around the globe,” Prof Modlin said.

Prof Ajit Lalvani, director of the Tuberculosis Research Unit at Imperial College London said there’s a spring peak in rates of tuberculosis which were attributed to low levels of vitamin D.

“But this shows there may well be at the least an additional reason – that other viral infections are leading some months down the road to progression from latent to active TB disease.

“The timing fits, but that continues to be to be proven.”

HPV link to 3rd of throat cancers

HPV virus ‘linked to 3rd of throat cancer cases’

There are greater than 100 forms of HPV

One third of folks diagnosed with throat cancer are infected with a sort of the HPV virus, a study suggests.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the foremost reason for cervical cancer, and the virus is thought to spread through genital or oral contact.

Actor Michael Douglas is reported to have spoken concerning the link after his own diagnosis with throat cancer.

Experts said this study inside the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which quantifies the link, showed “striking” results.

There are greater than 100 kinds of HPV. Many people be infected with HPV sooner or later, but in most the immune system will offer protection.

There are two HPV strains that are probably to cause cancer – HPV-16 and HPV-18.

HPV-16 is understood to be accountable for around 60% of cervical cancers, 80% of cancers within the anus and 60% of oral cancers.

Around 1,500 persons are diagnosed with throat cancers per annum within the UK, with around 470 people dying from the disease.

Survival benefit

This study checked out HPV’s link with cancer of the back of the throat – oropharyngeal cancer.

It checked out blood test results collected from people that took part in an enormous prospective study into lifestyle and cancer, who were all healthy firstly.

Everyone gives a blood sample after they join the study, and subsequently the researchers were capable of check for the presence of antibodies to at least one of HPV’s key proteins – E6.

E6 knocks out portion of cells’ protection system, which should prevent cancer developing.

Having the antibodies means HPV has already overcome that defence and caused cancerous changes in cells.

The researchers compared blood test results – some greater than 10 years old – for 135 those who went directly to develop throat cancer and for 1,599 cancer-free people.

The University of Oxford team found 35% of these with throat cancer had the antibodies, compared with fewer than 1% of these who were cancer-free.

However, these patients were likely to survive throat cancer than people whose disease had other causes, comparable to alcohol or tobacco use.

The study found 84% of folk with the antibodies were still alive five years after diagnosis, compared with 58% of these without.

Broader effect?

Dr Ruth Travis, a Cancer Research UK scientist at Oxford who worked at the study, said: “These striking results provide some evidence that HPV-16 infection could be a significant reason for oropharyngeal cancer.”

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “HPV is a particularly common virus.

“Practising safer sex may reduce the chance of having or passing on HPV, but condoms won’t stop infections completely.”

She added: “If the HPV vaccine may also protect against oral HPV infections and cancers, then it could actually have a broader potential protective effect, but we do not have enough research yet to inform us. “

UK-wide alcohol unit price call

Call for UK-wide 50p per unit price

Scotland looks set to have an additional minimum price for alcohol to England and Wales

There must be a pan-UK technique to combat problem drinking – including a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol, experts say.

The call by a coalition of 70 health groups and campaigners comes as different approaches are being pursued within the UK.

Their report said it was time for a “no-nonsense” and consistent approach.

This also needs to include a ban on advertising and difficult rules on sales, it said.

Devolution has meant different strategies was developing to tackle rising rates of problem drinking.

In Scotland a 50p price is determined to be introduced, while a 45p threshold have been proposed for England and Wales.

Northern Ireland is yet to place forward a selected proposal, even though it is reviewing pricing.

Slightly different licensing regimes exist besides.


But the report, produced by Stirling University experts with the backing of a bunch of royal colleges, health charities and medical groups, said this fragmented approach needed to end.

Research has suggested a 50p minimum price would cut back consumption by 6.7% which after 10 years would mean there have been 3,000 fewer alcohol deaths and 100,000 fewer hospital admissions.

As well as proposing a minimum price, it also said alcohol-related advertising and sponsorship should end and a 3rd of the distance of labels ought to be taken up by health warnings.

Licensing rules must also be standardised, while the drink-drive limit must be lowered, it said.

But perhaps one of the most radical suggestion was the concept that there could be restrictions on where and when alcohol can be sold.

The report didn’t recommend specific proposals, however the Stirling team said this may include a ban on sales after certain times within the evening and separate tills in supermarkets for alcohol.

The report, dubbed an independent alcohol strategy for the united kingdom, also highlighted the toll of excessive drinking.

Alcohol consumption has risen by 40% during the past 40 years with 1 / 4 of fellows and 17% of girls drinking greater than is sweet for them.

Alcohol related deaths now stand at nearly 9,000 a year – greater than double the figure within the early 1990s.

Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said it was essential the united kingdom governments worked together at the issue.

“The report provides a blueprint for action now and sooner or later.”

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, which has also put its name to the report, added: “We must all do something now to begin to tackle this avoidable epidemic.”