Intended for healthcare professionals


In brief

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 27 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1295

Review will consider training of healthcare assistants in England: An independent review will look at how the training and support of healthcare and other care assistants can be strengthened so they give better care to patients, England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced. The review, which follows the publication of the Francis report into care at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, will be led by the Times journalist Camilla Cavendish, who will report back to government at the end of May.

Side effect scare reduces sales of later generation pills: Sales of third and fourth generation contraceptive pills fell in France by 25% from early December to late January, in comparison with the same period a year before, amid a scare over risks of venous thromboembolism associated with the drugs.1 Sales of second generation pills, which the government recommended in early January should be the pill of choice because of slightly lower risks, rose by 16% during the same two months.

MP calls for Nicholson to answer questions about gagging clauses: The Conservative MP Steve Barclay, a member of the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said that £14.7m (€17m; $22.3m) of public money was spent on 598 NHS compromise agreements between 2008 and 2011. Of these, 90% included gagging clauses. Barclay obtained the figures after tabling a number of parliamentary questions. He said that the NHS chief executive, David Nicholson, should appear before the committee to answer questions about whether NHS officials were aware that whistleblowers were being silenced.

Plan aims to control untreatable gonorrhoea: The Health Protection Agency has launched the first gonorrhoea resistance action plan for England and Wales to extend the life of current treatments and to try to stop the spread of drug resistant strains of the bacterium ( The plan gives guidance on data collection, rapid detection of treatment failures, adherence to management guidelines, and comprehensive health promotion programmes to encourage safer sexual behaviour, particularly in higher risk groups, such as men who have sex with men.

Children’s access to antiretrovirals gets a boost: A key paediatric antiretroviral, abacavir, can be supplied in the 118 countries where most (98.7%) children with HIV live, under a patent licence agreed between the Medicines Patent Pool, the initiative to fund access to HIV treatments through a levy on airline tickets,2 and ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture of the drug companies GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi. Although 3.4 million children worldwide have HIV, only 562 000 have access to antiretrovirals, the World Health Organization has estimated. The groups are also looking to negotiate further licences to allow low cost versions of new paediatric drugs that ViiV Healthcare is developing.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1295


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