NHS launches campaign to increase male blood donors

The NHS has kicked off the new decade with a nationwide campaign to increase male blood donations. In 2019, only around 41% of new donors were male, despite male blood being used for a variety of illnesses which female blood is not able to treat.

Throughout January, the NHS will be campaigning to increase their first-time male blood donation rates by an ambitious 26% in 2020 which equates to roughly 68,000 new donors. This means that if the campaign is successful, first-time male blood donation rates will rise to 67%, overtaking female blood donation rates which reached 59% last year.

Number of annual new donations (Credit: NHS)

Every winter the NHS tries to encourage extra donations due to Christmas closures, however, donations must be regular to be effective as centres often have a “shortfall” after Christmas. A Staff Nurse from Edinburgh Blood Donation Centre says that while they do have a large number of donors, they are often irregular:

“Because we have a lot of students, you have them for a wee while then they move off… it’s just a constant battle to keep people coming in.”

Male blood exclusively is used for blood transfusions in newborn babies and provides 93% of donated platelets – an essential part of the blood’s clotting system. More than half of platelets donated are used to treat cancer patients to reduce internal bleeding. Regular donations are essential due to the shelf life of certain parts of the blood:

“Red blood cells last for about a month but platelets only last about a week, so we always need to keep going.”

Why do we need male blood?

Credit: Pixabay

Men are much more likely to have higher levels of iron compared to women as they don’t menstruate, which means that their donations are far less likely to be rejected because of low haemoglobin. This helps to maintain a level of consistency with donations which is vital to patients who receive regular transfusions throughout their lifetime.

Women are also known to produce certain antibodies and proteins during pregnancy. The presence of these antibodies affects the immune system, which can make transfusions a little more complicated.

Scared?

Voluntarily having blood sucked out of your arm is a terrifying concept to most people and this fear is why many of us choose not to donate.

If you’re thinking of donating and helping potentially hundreds of people, here are some tips to calm your nerves so you can get the most out of your life-saving donation.

Remember to eat!

An empty stomach and low blood sugar can make you feel sick and dizzy and means you are more likely to faint.

Have a snack just before you donate – high sugar snacks are preferable which gives you the perfect excuse to demolish a chocolate bar.

Stay hydrated!
Losing a fairly large volume of fluids can make you feel quite ill, so doctors recommend you drink at least 500ml of water before you donate.

Water is available at blood donation centres so remember to bring your reusable water bottle.

Distractions!
If anxiety can get the better of you in high-intensity situations, it might be worthwhile to take some time to set out your “plan of distraction” for when you’re donating.

Bring someone along with you, whether it’s your mum, your significant other or a friend – you might need a hand to hold.

If you’re donating alone, make a playlist full of your favourite inspirational songs and have your earphones at the ready to jam in your ears and drown everything else out.

Treat yourself!
You might be feeling a little dizzy or tired afterwards so head home, get comfy and spend the rest of your day on the couch with everyone’s friend Netflix.

Remember to eat and stay hydrated afterwards for the quickest recovery.

Don’t feel guilty about resting and looking after yourself – you just helped save some lives, you deserve it!

While they want as many people to donate as possible, nurses from the Edinburgh donation centre encourage you to put yourself first:

“If you get too nervous, it’s not going to work for you – it’ll just make you ill and we’re trying to make people better!”

Credit: Rhi Ramsey EN4 News

Credit: Rhi Ramsey EN4 News

Health report deems Queen Elizabeth University hospital unclean

Queen_Elizabeth_University_Hospital_and_the_Royal_Hospital_for_Children_(geograph_5722485)

Queen Elizabeth University hospital (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

An inspection has found that some part of Scotland’s largest hospital are unable to be cleaned due to ongoing repair work.

Earlier this year, the Queen Elizabeth University hospital came under fire after two patients died from infections attributed to pigeon droppings.

The report concluded that 300 repair jobs are still outstanding, with no clear plan of when these will be completed.

The emergency department was found not to be sufficiently cleaned, with evidence of bodily fluids and dust.

The unannounced inspection was carried out on request of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and focused on:

  • Leadership in the prevention and control of infection
  • Infection prevention and control policies procedures and guidance
  • Decontamination

The inspection comes after a number of concerning cases; 23 children contracted bloodstream infections in the cancer wards at the Royal Hospital for Children, which shares the Queen Elizabeth campus, 

However, the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has made reassurances that the infection rates are lower than the Scottish average.

The report serves to aid the Scottish Government’s wider independent review into the Queen Elizabeth.

 

 

Today’s national news: March 1st

Rory Hill brings us today’s national stories from across the UK.

 

No Smoking Day highlights danger to pets

The annual awareness campaign by the NHS focuses this year on damage to animals.

If you happen to know somebody who smokes cigarettes – or if you smoke them yourself – it’s a quirk to deal with. From the lingering smell to damaged gums and teeth, the inevitable effects can be frightful and that isn’t even to mention the severe health effects of the unpleasant habit.

 

National No Smoking Day began in the United Kingdom in 1984 and has since been celebrated annually on the second Wednesday in March. The campaign, which was set up by the NHS, urges people every year to stop smoking or to at least cut down. A changing theme is also portrayed every year which relates to the ways in which smoking affects you and those around you.

This year No Smoking Day wants you to understand the serious harm that smoking can cause not only to you, but also to your beloved pets. Sparking up around your pets is classified as second-hand smoking and causes just as much harm to them as it does humans, PDSA has warned.

Cases have seen asthma and chronic coughing in animals as a subject of second hand smoke, and it isn’t just cats and dogs who are endangered by the terrible trait – birds and small animals including rabbits and guinea pigs are all victims to second-hand smoking.

Image Credit: Jess McFadyen

 

The NHS are supplying those who wish to pack it in with the resources that they need to quit once and for all. An accompanying social media campaign brought forward by the NHS and ASH Scotland, called #TellUsYourWay, is also encouraging smokers to share their stories of how they curbed their addiction.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland is calling out to all smokers this year,

“NHS Quit Your Way services give you the best chance to stop smoking, and they’ll work with you to find your way to quit. Everybody’s different – whether it’s chewing gum, group support, switching to e-cigarettes or something else, you can do it.

“Use our hashtag #TellUsYourWay to post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and make a statement about how you quit smoking or how you plan to. We want to hear your stories and pictures of how you quit – we’re looking to share your experiences and encourage others to quit their way.

“Stopping smoking isn’t always easy, but the good news is that there’s more free support available than ever. You can pop into a pharmacy for local, expert advice, or call Quit Your Way Scotland seven days a week for proven help to quit.”

Image Credit Jess McFadyen

 

Judith McFadden, a local dog owner, said,

“As far as I’m concerned it is as bad as smoking around your children. It really breaks my heart when you see owners smoking in their car with their dog.”

If you want to quit, call Quit Your Way Scotland on 0800 84 84 84 for free advice and help. Lines are open from 8am to 10pm seven days a week.


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Disabled Man Died Thirsty

Man with Cerebral Palsy dies from sepsis during bad weather.

On Saturday 3rd March, Cameron Mclean woke up tired and thirsty at approximately 8:30am. His mother was worried after finding him sweating and having difficulty breathing so she phoned an ambulance immediately. Paramedics arrived and proceeded to dig a path in the snow to get to Cameron’s house.

Cameron had Cerebral Palsy, so being wheelchair bound, he was unable to leave the house due to the severe weather conditions. He was then rushed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but doctors discovered he had developed the sepsis blood infection, they attempted to save him but tragically, he died at 8:30pm just 12 hours after he complained of feeling tired and thirsty.

Sepsis

Cameron Mclean – Scotsman

Cameron Mclean’s death has left his family in Port Seton devastated. Friends are rallying to raise money for his funeral. Fundraising ideas have included a trolley in the local Co-op Food supermarket collecting funds and a family fun-day and disco planned by the Cockenzie and Port Seton British Legion club, people are doing as much as they can to give Cameron the send-off he deserves. Cameron’s mum’s best friend, Tressa Cherrie, set up a JustGiving page to raise £5000 for the funeral and has been overwhelmed by support from the community.

Clearly, Sepsis can be an extremely serious infection. It is however, gaining more publicity with The Archers’ BBC Radio programme’s portrayal of a character who dies of sepsis raising awareness with regards to the disease.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, 44,000 deaths in the UK are due to the illness. Ben Cooke, a staff Nurse at the NHS, said that,

“If it’s not treated quickly it can be deadly. Being thirsty is not a common symptom to have with Sepsis.

The UK Sepsis Trust set out guidelines which are specific to sepsis, which are slurred speech, shivering, no urine, severe breathlessness, a feeling of near death and discoloured skin. It’s not an obvious sign, but once sepsis identified, it’s a really dangerous thing to have.”.

 


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Beast from the East no match for determined NHS Scotland staff

Although the Beast from the East caused havoc for many across Scotland, a new report has shown that NHS staff were not harmed from treating almost nine out of 10 patients in target time.

A red weather warning was issued in parts of Scotland when icy blasts hit the country with snow; but that didn’t stop NHS Scotland from seeing – and either admitting, transferring and discharging A&E patients within the targeted time of four hours.

NHS Sign

Image credit: Getty Images

Although this still falls short of the Scottish Government’s targets of having 95% of patients seen within this time, Health Secretary, Shona Robison, was full of praise for the “tremendous effort” put in by the hospital staff.

She said:

“In the face of the red weather warning, NHS staff worked tirelessly to ensure A&E departments continued to run with almost nine out of 10 patients admitted, discharged or transferred within the four-hour target.

“This was a tremendous effort, and thanks to staff across the NHS who have experienced their busiest winter in a decade and continue to go the extra mile to give people the care they need.”

red weather warning

Red weather Warning is issued for Central Scotland as the country is hit by the Beast from the East. Feb 28 2018 Image Credit: SWNS

Despite the extreme snowfall, the performance of A&E staff on A&E waiting times increased from the previous week, when a lesser 87.5% of cases were dealt with in four hours.

Ethel Hardie, a Community Psychiatric Nurse in the Aberdeenshire area, said that she is amazed by how her team stepped up during the bad weather.

She said:

“Most community teams stepped in to help each other during these times, often staying additional hours past their finishing times, or people who live close to hospital coming in on days off to cover.

“It never ceases to amaze me despite the poor wages, nurses remain dedicated to their patients with little thanks.”

However, despite the efforts put in by NHS staff, some nurses felt that they were being forced to travel in unsafe conditions to get to work.

The community nurse added:

“I think it’s a disgrace that we have to use our annual leave if we are unable to get to work due to weather conditions.

“In this day and age we should be able to use this as paper work day, or work from another facility like teachers do.

“Hours logged could be monitored via computers.”

Even though staff struggled to get to and from work, the Health Secretary remained positive about the performance of Scotland’s health services.

She said:

“Hospitals saw incredible pressures this week with staff struggling to get in or out of work and patients unable to get home, and this level of disruption will take time to recover.

“However, our A&E departments are still the best performing in the UK, as they have been for the past three years, thanks to our record investment and increased levels of staffing into our hospitals.”

Karen Mitchell, a District Nurse also from the Aberdeenshire are, said she believes that the commitment from NHS staff was the sole factor in keeping NHS Scotland running efficiently.

She stated:

“The beast from the east caused havoc for the NHS across the UK.

“With hospital appointments and operations cancelled, the resourcefulness and resilience of staff ensured patients were cared for throughout.

Staff from Glasgow Royal Infirmary spent the night at the hospital to make sure there was staff there at all times | Image credit: Evening Times

“Community teams were faced with dangerous conditions in remote areas to reach patients – sometimes on foot –  who were vulnerable to ensure patient safety was maintained.

“The team spirit demonstrated commitment to patient care, with as little disruption as possible.

“This proves our NHS is invaluable, and the hard work and commitment of staff is what keeps it running despite pay freezes and staff shortages.”

Staff nurse Claire Woods, who works at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, agreed that NHS staff went above and beyond to provide care for their patients.

“Some staff had to stay the night at the hospital to ensure they were able to be at work the next day, with staff also staying hours after their shifts ended until the next staff member arrived to assure that patient safety was maintained”, she said.

Members of the public took to Twitter to express their support for Scotland’s NHS.  Twitter user @ticgran expressed there thanks to the NHS through a tweet saying: “Well done NHS Scotland. I love the care at home which enable me to stay at home and get amazing treatment.”

Twitter user @ticgran complimented the NHS’s care | Image credit: Twitter user @ticgran

Graham Pattie also took to Twitter to share his praise for the NHS adding: “NHS Scotland. Still out-performing the rest of the UK.”

Twitter user Graham Pattie shares his pride in NHS Scotland on Twitter | Image credit: Twitter user @GrahamP58

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association Scotland (BMA) also expressed their gratitude for the “extraordinary lengths” that the NHS staff went to in order to care for their patients.

They stated:

“Doctors and other NHS staff went to extraordinary lengths to provide care to their patients throughout the disruption caused by the recent extreme weather. Some staff slept in hospitals to continue looking after their patients, while others made long and difficult journeys to reach their place of work.

“The lengths that NHS staff went to shows the dedication they have to their jobs and to their patients and should be applauded.”


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Radio Bulletin @ 4pm

Saskia Williams presents today’s news with this weeks bulletin.

Edinburgh Council appeal for people power to help their Tourist Tax Cuts Scheme. Source: Edinburgh Evening News

Canadian company Concordia accused of overcharging NHS by millions

Concordia have reportedly raised the price of a life-changing thyroid drug by 6,000 percent over the past ten years.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority have said the firm has “abused its dominant position to overcharge the NHS”. In 2016 alone, more than 34 million was spent on the liothyronine tablets. These tablets help treat hypothyroidism, which affects at least 2 in every 100 people.

Concordia have reportedly overcharged the NHS. Photograph: Reuters


In 2007, the amount paid per pack was around £4.50. By July 2017, this rose to more than £250.

CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said pharmaceutical companies who are overcharging these drugs are forcing the NHS – and the taxpayer – to overpay for vital medical treatments.

He said: 

We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that.”

The decision as to whether or not there has been a breach of competition law is yet to be made. The CMA can fine companies up to 10 percent of their worldwide annual turnover if they are found guilty.

He added:

“We will carefully consider any representations from the company before deciding whether the law has in fact been broken.”

Liothyronine tablets help treat hypothyroidism. Photograph: Google

However, Concordia denied any laws were infringed as they stated:

The pricing of liothyronine has been conducted openly and transparently with the Department of Health in the UK over a period of ten years.

Over that time, significant investment has been made in this medicine to ensure its continued availability for patients in the UK, to the specifications required by the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency in the UK.”

Concordia have said they will cooperate fully with CMA’s investigation.


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New research shows emotional impact of diabetes

Today marks World Diabetes Day. This was first started in 1991 jointly by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation.

 

Research unveiled today by Diabetes UK has highlighted the emotional and mental issues that comes with diabetes.

 

”Out of 8,500 people surveyed, three in five five said that their condition made them feel down, and only three in ten said that they felt in control of their diabetes.”

 

The charity has called upon the UK Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with the illness. This will by committing to sustain funding at current levels of £44 million, until at least 2021.

 

The chief executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew, spoke of the importance of being able to help sufferers with the emotional consequences of the condition:

 

“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs,” said Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

 

Diabetes is a lifelong incurable condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to go too high, of which there are two main types:

 

Type 1 diabetes is typically developed in childhood, and is due to a lack of insulin which means the body cannot control the amount of sugar that is in the bloodstream. In most cases of treatment, regular injections of insulin are required to help regulate blood sugar levels.

 

Type 2, the most common type, is where the body does not make enough insulin to work properly or when the body doesn’t react to insulin.

For more information on the symptoms, causes and further treatment of both types of diabetes.

 

 

Insulin allows the cells in the muscles, fat and liver to absorb sugar that is in the blood.
Source: Flickr

 

Diabetes is a key factor in causing disability and creates a greater risk of heart diseases and other health issues. The 2016 Scottish Diabetes Survey estimates that there were around 300,000 people in Scotland with diabetes at the end of 2016.

 

The main theme behind World Diabetes Day 2017 is Women and Diabetes, about broadening access for women for the healthcare options that they need. According to the International Federation for Diabetes:

 

‘’There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.’’

 

The IDF believe that more needs to be done to provide girls and women with the support they need in societies where men tend to find getting support easier and quicker, as well as tackling other inequalities such as dieting and physical activity.

Scotland’s A&E performance figures announced

edinburghroyalinfirmary

Scotland’s A&E figures show positive results for the Scottish NHS, the health secretary said yesterday.

During the month of August, 94.8% of patients were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within fours hours in Scottish A&E’s. The figures further show an increase in nearly 7,500 attendances compared to July resulting in the highest level of attendances, at 142,950, in any August for three years.

Health Secretary Shona Robison, said: “Our dedicated NHS staff have been working very hard to improve the experience for patients in A&E. Core A&E performance in Scotland has remained consistently better than elsewhere in the UK for the last 17 consecutive months.

“However, we know there is always more to be done, which is why health boards are continuing to implement our six essential actions. These initiatives aim to minimise long delays in A&E and assessment units by improving patient flow throughout all areas of the hospital and community.”

Increased staffing in NHS A&E departments across Scotland is hoping to pave the way to further improvements in the health care system across the nation, with a goal to maintain high performance throughout periods of high A&E activity.

Check the performance of your local NHS here.

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