Intended for healthcare professionals


Seven days in medicine: 14-20 August 2019

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 22 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5206

Drug deaths

England and Wales report all time high

Some 4359 deaths were related to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2018, the highest number and biggest annual increase (16%) since the time series began in 1993, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.1 Two thirds (2917) of the deaths were related to drug misuse, and 51% involved an opiate. Deaths involving cocaine during 2015-18 doubled to their highest ever level of 637, up from 320. The north east had a considerably higher death rate than all other English regions, and London had the lowest.


Doctors call for £3bn extra funding a year

Doctors’ leaders in Scotland warned of an “ongoing decline” in hospital services unless years of underfunding are halted. A report produced by BMA Scotland set out 20 proposals for reform,2 including extra funding of around £3bn (€3.28bn; $3.64bn) a year to increase health spending to 10% of GDP, in line with comparator countries in the EU. The leaders also want a “more mature” approach to targets, better workforce planning, greater investment in staff health, and responsibility given to frontline consultants to run services.

Bogus psychiatrist’s records are reviewed

Health boards in Scotland are reviewing the treatment records of a bogus psychiatrist who practised in the NHS for 23 years without any medical qualifications, and they plan to write to her former patients. Zholia Alemi is serving a five year prison sentence for forging a widowed patient’s will in an attempt to inherit her £1.3m (€1.4m; $1.6m) estate.3 …

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