In brief

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 12 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6775

NHS in England has 20 000 nursing vacancies: The Royal College of Nursing has said that nearly 20 000 nursing posts in England are unfilled, after it conducted a survey of all acute, mental health, and community NHS trusts using freedom of information requests.1 A total of 61 organisations replied (24% response rate), whose average vacancy rate was 6%, although in some trusts it was as high as 16%. The college acted after the government stopped collecting data on vacancies in 2001, when the vacancy rate was 2.5%.

WHO responds to typhoon: The World Health Organization has flown in more than 24 emergency relief experts to assess the needs of an estimated 4.5 million people in the central Philippines who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan last week. It is shipping in four emergency kits with drugs and supplies to cover the basic health needs of 120 000 people for a month and supplies to perform 400 surgical interventions. Supplies to treat 3000 cases of acute diarrhoea are also being sent.

Mexico approves tax on sugary drinks: The Mexican Congress has approved a special product and services tax of 1 peso (£0.05; €0.06; $0.08) per litre of sugary drinks, including concentrates, powdered drinks, syrups, essences, and flavour extracts. An additional 8% tax on foods with an energy content exceeding 275 kcal per 100 g was also approved. The new taxes will take effect in January 2014.

Scotland scraps elections to health boards: The Scottish government has abandoned its plan to hold elections to appoint people to run Scotland’s health boards. The decision came after pilot elections that resulted in a very low turnout of voters.2

Regulator warns of problems associated with sports supplement: The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has warned about serious liver and heart problems associated with the popular sport dietary supplement OxyElite Pro. In August 2012 the agency warned consumers against using an earlier formulation of the product, as it contained methylhexanamine (DMAA). Now the regulator is advising against the use of the new formulation as it contains aegeline, a substance that has recently been linked to 56 cases of acute hepatitis in the United States.

Grant for test that checks immunity: Public Health England has been awarded a £1.1m (€1.3m; $1.8m) research grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a point of care test that would allow health workers to check people’s immunity and vaccine coverage through saliva samples, with the results delivered instantaneously to national immunisation centres. The rechargeable portable readers being tested could be used in the field such as areas in developing countries where direct access to health services was limited.

BMJ reporter is nominated for award: The BMJ’s Gareth Iacobucci has been nominated in the Press Gazette’s British journalism awards for the science and technology journalist of the year award, for investigations he conducted this year on conflicts of interest among members of clinical commissioning groups, rationing of hospital care, and the expansion of options for private patients.3 4 5


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6775


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