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Media Monitoring: 18 – 24 January

By January 24, 2024No Comments

Health Secretary announces new women’s health priorities for 2024

  • Top priorities to be tackled under the Women’s Health Strategy in 2024 include menstrual problems and menopause, maternity care and birth trauma support.
  • Health Secretary addresses women’s health champions at major London event to outline plans for coming year and celebrate successes of strategy’s first year.
  • £50 million has been assigned for research to tackle maternity disparities.


UK and U.S. announce new strategic partnership to tackle increased biological threats

  • The partnership builds on existing commitments made in The Atlantic Declaration signed by the UK and US in June 2023, which provides a framework for a modern economic partnership ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century – and will be key to bolstering the future health and economic resilience of the UK.
  • Working as equal partners the new Strategic Dialogue reaffirms both nations’ commitment to increase collaboration on biosecurity in the following ways: Develop a shared understanding of research and development needs, allowing for improved responsiveness to disease outbreaks and supporting early technology assessments; embed a ‘One Health’ approach to bio-surveillance and biological threat detection; promote responsible innovation in the biotechnology, health and life sciences sectors, shaping global norms and standards on biosafety and biosecurity.


Labour request talks with civil service in preparation for No 10

  • Labour has formally requested talks with the civil service in preparation for government if the party wins the election, and discussions are expected to start within two weeks.
  • Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, wrote to Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, to begin the process of access talks, a week after Rishi Sunak gave the go-ahead for them to start.
  • It is understood that the process is likely to start before the end of the month.


New machine learning tool developed to support whole genome sequencing analysis for cancer

  • Researchers have developed a new tool to help improve the accuracy of whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis for patients with haematological cancers, which affect the blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes.
  • In cancer, WGS can be used to identify genetic changes that drive cancer development by comparing DNA from a patient’s tumour to the DNA in their healthy or ‘normal’ tissue. To do this, two samples need to be taken, one directly from the tumour as well as a ‘normal’ blood sample.
  • The new tool, developed by researchers from Genomics England, University of Trieste and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, aims to help address challenges in interpreting WGS cancer data when contamination of ‘normal’ samples occurs.


International research collaboration leads to breakthrough in antibiotic resistance testing using DNA sequencing

  • A recent Lancet Microbe study investigated the accuracy of antibiotic resistance determination from Enterococcus faecium genomes for diagnostic purposes.
  • Among all antibiotic-resistant strains, Enterococcus faecium, particularly vancomycin-resistant E faecium, presents a significant concern as it accounts for more than 200,000 deaths per year globally.
  • This specific microbial strain has been identified to be the leading hospital-acquired infection in the surgical site, bloodstream or urinary tract. E faecium infection particularly increases mortality risks in immunocompromised and critically ill patients and several studies have shown that E faecium resists several common antibiotics like ampicillin and vancomycin.


Online pharmacy launches UTI self-test and treat app with 24-hour drug delivery

  • Rightdose Pharmacy has partnered with home testing provider Newfoundland Diagnostics and medical technology supplier BHA Medical to develop a new UTI self-test app, the diagnostics company announced earlier this month.
  • After performing the test, patients whose result is “positive” can log this in the app, then select and pay for their medication – which will be provided by the online pharmacy via a patient group direction (PGD) and delivered straight to their door within 24 hours .
  • Newfoundland Diagnostics said that the “revolutionary” app “marks a milestone in healthcare accessibility, enabling individuals to manage UTIs conveniently from home, reducing the strain on NHS resources and bypassing the need to consult a GP or medical professional for immediate treatment”.


Persistent complement dysregulation with signs of thromboinflammation in active Long Covid

  • Some individuals can endure persistent, debilitating symptoms for many months after an initial severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
  • However, the factors underpinning these health issues, called Long Covid, are poorly understood. Comparing the blood of patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection with that of uninfected controls, Cervia-Hasler et al. found that patients experiencing Long COVID exhibited changes to blood serum proteins indicating activation of the immune system’s complement cascade, altered coagulation, and tissue injury.
  • At the cellular level, Long Covid was linked to aggregates comprising monocytes and platelets. These findings provide a resource of potential biomarkers for diagnosis and may inform directions for treatments.


House of Commons question from Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to improve the (a) adoption and (b) spread of medical technologies across the NHS.

Answer from Health Minister Andrew Stephenson:

In February 2023, the Government published its first ever strategy for MedTech, outlining our priorities for improving the adoption and spread of safe, effective and innovative medical technologies across the National Health Service.

As part of this effort, we are implementing solutions to streamline the innovation adoption pathway. We are focusing on clarifying signals to industry on what innovation the NHS needs, reforming regulation, providing product assessments based on real world evidence, and improving procurement processes.

We recently launched the Innovative Devices Access Pathway pilot in September 2023. The pilot will test a pre-regulatory, access pathway for eight pilot technologies that meet a clinical unmet need in the NHS. This accelerated pathway will support the adoption of transformative technologies into the NHS and to patients.

The Government is investing £30 million in the Health Tech Adoption and Acceleration Fund. Funding has been disseminated to all 42 integrated care systems to invest in proven technology that will help cut waiting lists, speed up diagnosis and deliver new and improved ways to treat patients.

The Department has partnered with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop and pilot a process for evaluations that compare similar MedTech products in use across the NHS. These evaluations will improve NHS decision makers ability to identify which products offer value for money and are worth adopting more widely.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is updating the medical device regulatory framework. The new framework is designed to protect patient safety, support innovation within the United Kingdom\’s life sciences sector and improve access to innovative medical devices.

Ben Kemp