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In brief

Food campaigners are disappointed in the delay in setting up the promised Food Standards Agency (see Health Insight, February 1998). The target date for the launch of the Agency was 1st January 2000. However, a bill has not yet been presented to parliament and it is now thought unlikely that it will be included in the Queen's Speech next month. The Food Commission pressure group says, 'Suspicions are mounting that the Agency will be weakened or lost altogether'.
Source: Food Magazine Oct-Dec 1998

Scottish office health minister Sam Galbraith has ordered a review of clinical services at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow. This follows several recent cases of suspected negligence which have caused public concern.
Source: BBC Online Network

A new foundation is being established in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to support ground-breaking research which is developing important diagnostic aids for schizophrenia and laying a base for new treatments.
Source: Press release (Highland Psychiatric Research Foundation)

A joint report has been published by the National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services and the Scottish Partnership Agency for Palliative and Cancer Care. Called 'Reaching Out: Specialist Palliative Care for Adults with Non-Malignant Disease', it highlights the care needs of people dying with conditions other than cancer.
Source: Press release (National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services)

The National Back Pain Association (NBPA) estimates that 80 percent of children are carrying too much weight in badly-designed bags and mostly taking the weight on one shoulder. This has long-term implications in terms of curvature of the spine, juvenile arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain. NBPA has devised three school satchels, designed to produce the least stress on the spine.
Source: Times 26 September

A young doctor has been awarded nearly £500,000 in damages after pricking her finger on a needle. She did not contract an infection from this incident, but became increasingly anxious about needles, blood and AIDS. She is no longer working.
Source: Guardian 10 September

The publication of a report by an independent review team has recommended that payments to surrogate mothers should be restricted to genuine expenses and that such arrangements should be subject to regulation. Agencies should be registered and a Code of Practice needs to be drawn up. The government is to produce a consultation paper, on which both professionals and the public will be invited to comment.
Source: Press release (DoH)

A leading independent school, Malvern College, will start breathalysing pupils if they appear to have been drinking. This follows the death of a 17-year-old pupil who crashed his car when over the limit. Although many schools already test pupils for drugs, head teachers have identified alcohol as a bigger concern as it is easily available.
Source: Times 17 October

A new voluntary code of conduct is about to be introduced by the government to segregate smokers in all large restaurants and bars. New ventilation systems must also be fitted. This is seen by many as the last chance of avoiding an outright ban.
Source: Observer 18 October

Nursing staff at a hospital in Bristol are undergoing further training after the death of an elderly patient, as a result of confusion over a blood transfusion. The patient was given blood intended for another patient with a very similar name. An internal investigation identified a series of errors which had occurred and a resultant set of recommendations, which have now been implemented.
Source: Guardian 10 September

A recent report claimed that British men are among the most depressed in Europe. However, few are getting proper treatment as they are not acknowledging that there is a problem or asking for help. The also deal with depression in a different way to women; they are more likely to drink, take drugs or commit suicide.
Source: Guardian 1 October

The Cardiomyopathy Association is running a campaign to change government policy and raise awareness about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease which is the biggest single cause of sudden death amongst under 25-year-olds. Although not curable, if this hereditary disease is identified by screening, sudden deaths may almost always be prevented. The charity hopes that its 'Big-hearted' campaign will ensure that more doctors and health professionals will recognise and treat the symptoms of the condition. Triggers for further investigation include any sudden, unexplained deaths in the family, breathlessness, episodes of fainting and abnormalities of heart rhythm.
Press release (Cardiomyopathy Association)

The first UK course designed to teach nutritional methods in the treatment and prevention of conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease has begun at the University of Surrey. It is aimed at GPs, consultants, pharmacists and dieticians. The course, entitled 'Nutritional Medicine', will take from two to six years to complete as it is designed in modular form to fit in with a busy professional life.
Source: Press release (University of Surrey)

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