March in a Nutshell


Here is our round-up of five newsworthy stories for March 2018. Please click on the arrows on each side to navigate. Enjoy!

Three-year NHS Pay Deal

Last September, NHS nurses and other staff asked for a 3.9% pay rise and an additional £800 to make up for the pay shortfall in recent years. Since 2010, their pay has fallen by 15% (adjusted for inflation). This reduction in pay followed plans to increase the pay of police officers.

Now, a three-year pay deal for all NHS staff, excluding doctors and dentists, is in the works. Increased funding has been made possible by the government’s decision to remove the 1% cap on public sector pay. Health authorities hope that the better pay would help ease recruitment problems.

However, this deal has yet to receive approval from ministers. Several details still need to be ironed out, such as changes to current working practices.

Improved Vaginal Mesh Implant

Vaginal mesh implants are commonly used to prevent pelvic organ prolapse in women who have just given birth. Their use is controversial, given the severe possible side effects – such as inflammation and infection – caused by plastic meshes.

Now, University of Sheffield scientists have developed a flexible implant, which they claim is more durable and less likely to cause inflammation. Their findings are published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics.

Besides closely resembling human tissue, this polyurethane implant can be infused with oestrogen to promote wound healing. It is also more durable than existing models.

However, more tests on safety and efficacy are needed before the new mesh will be allowed for use in patients. NICE recently declared that evidence surrounding the use of mesh implants in organ prolapse is lacking. Doubts also remain regarding the safety of the material, which is derived from plastic.

Diets in Rural 19th- Century Britain

Researchers studying the diets of people in mid-Victorian Britain found that the regions with the lowest mortality rates were also usually the most isolated. This could be due to more nutritious eating habits, as people in these areas tended to consume local produce such as potatoes, whole grains, vegetables, milk and fish. There were also fewer deaths attributed to tuberculosis, an extremely common disease in impoverished areas.

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

Most heart attacks require urgent thrombolysis, except for a specific type of heart attack – spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). In such cases, less is more.

SCAD has a similar clinical presentation to the classical heart attack, sharing symptoms such as chest pain and dyspnoea. This, coupled with the fact that patients typically do not show heart attack risk factors, leads to frequent misdiagnoses. SCAD affects women almost exclusively; it is the leading cause of heart attack in pregnancy, during the immediate post-partum period, and in women under 50.

SCAD is caused by various factors ranging from genetic to environmental factors. Because SCAD patients often suffer from anxiety and depression, psychosocial support is essential as part of rehabilitation programmes.

Shortage of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

In just four years, the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists in England has fallen by 6.3%. London has only around 17 child and adolescent psychiatrists.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has called for child and adolescent psychiatrists to be included in the Home Office’s shortage occupation list. This would help overseas recruitment by speeding up visa applications.

More child and adolescent psychiatrists will be needed to deal with the rise in referrals for young patients with mental health concerns.