In brief

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 23 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3407

Cherie Blair’s health venture fails: A UK company set up by Cherie Blair, wife of the former UK prime minister Tony Blair, and the US fund manager Gail Lese, with the intention of opening 100 health clinics in Sainsbury supermarkets, has gone into liquidation, owing money to customers and staff. The business, called Mee Healthcare which managed to open only 11 clinics, ceased trading on 18 June. At least 38 staff have lost their jobs, along with locum opticians, dentists, and other clinicians.

New UK migrant rules may “cost NHS thousands of nurses”: Thousands of foreign nurses working in junior posts in the UK could be forced to return home under new rules on immigration, the Royal College of Nursing has warned. A new pay threshold for immigrants means that non-European workers will have to leave the UK after six years if they are not earning at least £35 000. The nursing union said that the rules would “cause chaos” for the NHS.

TV reporter asks stem cell donors to come forward: The BBC foreign correspondent Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who has acute myeloid leukaemia, has appealed for a stem cell donor to enable her to survive. The BBC held an open day for her on Monday 22 June at New Broadcasting House in London to encourage 16 to 30 year olds to join the register of the charity the Anthony Nolan Trust by supplying a saliva sample. Lloyd-Roberts, who has reported from Syrian, Burma, and North Korea, has undergone two rounds of chemotherapy at University College Hospital in London since her diagnosis four months ago.

England launches meningitis B and meningitis ACWY vaccination programmes: From September babies aged 2 months will be offered the vaccine against meningococcal B disease, followed by a second dose at 4 months and a booster at 12 months, the Department of Health for England has announced. In addition, from August all 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 will be offered a combined vaccine that protects against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal disease.

Dutch court quashes conviction: A Dutch appeal court has quashed the former consultant neurologist Ernst Jansen Steur’s conviction for harming his patients, ruling that it was not proved that he acted intentionally. He had originally been sentenced in 2014 to three years in jail for giving incorrect diagnoses to eight patients and treating them in a “medically irresponsible” way.1 The lower court said that this had amounted to “intentionally harming his patients’ health,” causing considerable physical damage and, in one case, leading to suicide. That conviction was overturned, but others for stealing prescriptions, embezzlement, and falsifying consent forms remain.

Suspend GP inspections, say BMA and RCGP: The Royal College of General Practitioners has agreed an emergency motion calling on England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to introduce an “immediate pause” in routine inspections of general practices to relieve pressure on surgeries, which it warns are “on the brink of meltdown.” Meanwhile GP leaders at the BMA’s annual representative meeting have overwhelmingly passed a motion describing the regulator the Care Quality Commission as “unfit for purpose” and calling for inspections of GP surgeries to be suspended. (For longer story see doi:10.1136/bmj.h3438.)

Rise in STIs is higher among gay men: A total of 439 243 sexually transmitted infections were reported in England in 2014, show figures from Public Health England. Chlamydia accounted for 47% of diagnoses (206 774 cases), followed by genital warts (70 612). The largest increases were in the incidence of syphilis (a 33% rise) and gonorrhoea (19%). Among gay men syphilis cases rose by 46% and gonorrhoea by 32%.

Scotland appoints officer to review whistleblowing cases: The handling of whistleblowing cases is to be subject to independent and external review in Scotland in a move that doctors’ leaders have welcomed. A national officer is to be appointed to conduct reviews as part of a package of measures that includes establishing whistleblowing champions in each health board, running additional training events for staff, and legislation to create a statutory duty of candour.

Charges made over Medicare fraud: The US Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged 243 people with submitting fraudulent Medicare bills totalling $712m (£450; €630). Forty six of the accused are licensed medical professionals. They billed “for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed, and for services that weren’t rendered.” (For longer story see doi:10.1136/bmj.h3425.)

China rejects patent for hepatitis C blockbuster: The Chinese patent office has rejected a patent application for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir (Solvaldi), increasing the possibility for a generic version of the drug to become available in China. The global humanitarian group MSF said that the move could push down the price of the drug. (For longer story see doi:10.1136/bmj.h3429.)


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3407


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