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waiting patientsUp to 500 delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of abandoning the fees at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Belfast.  ‘We are doctors not border guards,’ said Dr Omar Risk in Monday’s debate. ‘Charging migrants for accessing NHS services is a fundamentally racist endeavour – we are complicit in the oppressive regime.’ Medics backing the motion said charging made health staff ‘complicit in racism’ and ‘racial profiling’.

Doctors who opposed the move were booed as they spoke. Conservative MPs said that opening up the NHS to the rest of the world was reckless when its resources were so stretched. Health tourism is thought to cost anything from £200million to £2billion a year. The BMA, which is one of the country’s most powerful trade unions, will now lobby the Department of Health to overhaul the charging system. Although the Government sets the rules, they function only if doctors follow them.

AI predicts lung cancerA US study suggests that artificial intelligence is better than specialist doctors at diagnosing lung cancer.

The researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois and Google hope the technology could boost the effectiveness of cancer screening.

Finding tumours at an earlier stage should make them easier to treat. The team said AI would have a "huge" role in the future of medicine, but the current software is not yet ready for clinical use. The study focused on lung cancer, which kills more people - 1.8 million a year - than any other type of cancer. It is why the US recommends screening for people at high risk because of years of heavy smoking. However, screening can result in invasive biopsies for people who turn out not to have cancer, and also misses some tumours.

NHS StaffA new study by health experts has shown that the productivity of the NHS has improved almost two and a half times as fast than the wider economy over the last 12 years, meaning more care and treatments for patients and better value for taxpayers. According to the University of York’s Centre for Health Economics, hard-working NHS staff provided 16.5% more care pound for pound in 2016/17 than they did in 2004/05, compared to productivity growth of only 6.7% in the economy as a whole.

Their study, Productivity of the English National Health Service: 2016/17 Update, revealed NHS outputs have continuously increased since they began measuring a dozen years earlier. Some 5.2 million more patients received planned or emergency hospital treatments in 2016/17 than in 2004/05 – an increase of about 42%. Separately outpatient activity has shot up by 131% since 2004/05, with over 60 million more attendances in 2016/17 compared to 2007/08.

footballsNHS England has welcomed moves by football clubs to improve the nation’s health including cookery classes for bereaved men, exercise sessions for people with cancer and sport to help tackle mental ill health. A nation-wide day of action saw 72 football clubs from the English Football League put their full weight behind nationwide community health activities.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to ramping-up personalised care, including placing 1,000 social prescribing link workers in GP surgeries, giving more time to help patients with issues that can have a knock-on effect on health, like loneliness or isolation, and connecting them to suitable local activities.
Social prescribing can offer alternative ways of treating people in their community, with one-in-five of GPs regularly referring patients to these schemes, as studies show 28% fewer GP consultations and 24% fewer A&E attendances where social prescribing ‘connector’ services are working well.

NHS EnglandFemale healthcare scientists are invited to apply for NHS England’s prestigious leadership development scheme, aimed at mid-career healthcare scientists to develop leaders and increase their impact within their Trusts and beyond.

Led by NHS England’s Chief Scientific Officer, the CSOWISE Healthcare Science Leadership Development Programme for NHS England scheme provides support for 32 healthcare scientists over 12 months through a leadership development programme that includes mentoring alongside communication and leadership skills training. In addition, successful applicants will have the opportunity to attend the Chief Scientific Officer conference and become WISE role models, helping to inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps.

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