In brief

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 09 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f109

Campaign for voluntary euthanasia will continue: The widow of Tony Nicklinson, who campaigned for the right for a doctor to end his life, has won the right to take his case forward after a ruling from the Court of Appeal. Jane Nicklinson will argue that the current law on assisted suicide is incompatible with a person’s right to respect for dignity and autonomy under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Tony died in August 2012 after losing a High Court battle for voluntary euthanasia.1

Achievements of joint commissioning are questionable: No evidence exists that joint commissioning in health and social care improves local outcomes, found a study that examined selected sites of “best practice.”2 One of the authors of the report, Helen Dickinson, of the University of Birmingham, said, “If the government does not have a clear sense of what joint commissioning should deliver then there is a question over whether it should be pressurising CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] and local authorities to combine budgets.”

β blockers improve lung cancer survival: Patients with non-small cell lung cancer survive longer if they take β blockers while receiving radiotherapy, shows a study of 722 patients treated at the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center.3 The 155 patients who were taking β blockers for other conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, survived for an average of 23.7 months, whereas the 567 patients who were not taking β blockers survived for an average of 18.6 months (P=0.01 for difference in overall survival). The findings indicate that β blockers may help prevent metastases, said the authors.

Evidence on homeopathic flu remedy is inconclusive: A Cochrane systematic review has found that there is insufficient good evidence to say whether the homeopathic treatment Oscillococcinum helps to prevent or treat flu and flu-like illness.4 One of the authors, Robert Mathie, said, “The findings do not rule out the possibility that Oscillococcinum could have a clinically useful treatment effect but, given the low quality of the eligible studies, the evidence is not compelling.” Although not sold in the UK, Oscillococcinum is a patented homeopathic treatment that is widely available in other European countries and North America.

Consultation opens on next round of QOF indicators: The new list of 14 Quality and Outcomes Framework indicators for 2014-15 is open to public consultation ( It includes four proposed indicators relating to dementia, including assessing the health and support needs of carers of people with dementia. There are also two potential indicators to improve the care of people who have a history of stroke or transient ischaemic attack. The QOF advisory committee will consider results of the piloting and consultation feedback in June 2013 before recommending which indicators should be taken forward.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f109