Top Healthcare News Stories of the Month – Feb

The Top Medical/Health News Stories of the Month

Here’s our round-up of the medical and healthcare news stories of the month – and what a month it’s been! We’ve scoured the news for the stories we think are important to be aware of. 

Use these stories to help boost your knowledge of the healthcare sector and the biggest health topics affecting us.

Victims of sodium valproate and mesh implant scandals should get compensation

Thousands of women and children affected by two separate medical scandals – one involving the epilepsy medication sodium valproate, and another involving vaginal mesh used to treat prolapses – have a “clear case” for compensation, a new report has said.

The review by England’s Patient Safety Commissioner highlights how thousands of women’s lives were “destroyed” due to pelvic mesh, and thousands of children “will never be able to live independent lives” after being exposed to sodium valproate.

Epilepsy treatment sodium valproate has been linked to physical malformations, autism and developmental delay in some children when it is taken by their mothers while pregnant.

Vaginal mesh implants have been used to treat urinary and gynaecological conditions, but have caused debilitating harm to some women.

The report says there is a “clear case” for redress based on the “systemic” healthcare and regulatory failures for women and children affected by the issues in England.

A legal perspective to the report can be found here.

NHS Dentistry Reforms Needed

NHS England and DHSC have published important steps to help improve patient access to NHS dental care.

The plan announces a range of public health initiatives to improve the oral health of children and recommits to the workforce growth and development outlined in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

It is an important next step in improving patient access to NHS dental care and supporting dental services to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

Hundreds queue at new NHS dental practice in Bristol

Police were called to manage hundreds of people lined up outside a dentist in Bristol, who had flocked to the newly opened practice desperate to secure an NHS appointment.

The dentist, which was formerly a Bupa dental centre, reopened under the name St Pauls dental practice on Monday morning. The St Pauls area in Bristol has been without a dentist for seven months after the site closed last June.


Long queues could be seen outside the dentist when it opened at about 10am. Just before noon, police officers arrived on the scene to control the line. Avon and Somerset police said they had told those who were further back in the queue that they were unlikely to reach the front before the end of the day but added they did not ask anyone to leave.

King Charles diagnosed with Cancer

Buckingham Palace has not revealed the type of cancer – it is not prostate cancer, but was discovered during his recent treatment for an enlarged prostate.

The King began “regular treatments” on Monday and will postpone public duties during it, the Palace said.

The Monarch, 75, “remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible,” it added.

No further details are being shared on the stage of cancer or a prognosis.

Cancer Research UK put out a statement that said ‘The King’s diagnosis brings home that cancer affects everyone’, more of their statement can be found here.

Want to find out more about Cancer?

Cancer Research UK has a wealth of information about different types of cancers, their prevalence and management.

Israel - Palestine Conflict

  • Israel appears to be in breach of ICJ orders on Gaza, senior UN official says. Special rapporteur cites lack of medical supplies, food and clean water, and continued demolition of infrastructure.
  • Top UN chief decries ‘unacceptable’ scale of Gaza deaths as 28,000 reported killed, with more than 67,600 Palestinians wounded. Palestine’s health ministry says most casualties are women and children, and that thousands more may lie under rubble. Read more here.
  • Of the 36 hospitals in Gaza only 15 remain open, and only three are undamaged.
  • Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl who appealed for help from emergency services on the phone after coming under Israeli fire with her family, was found dead after 12 days along with two medics sent to find her.
  • Tens of thousands in Gaza with chronic life-threatening illnesses have gone without treatment for months, and are now “without defences”, their bodies’ weakened by malnutrition, cold and fatigue, say doctors.
  • Palestinians flee as Israel orders evacuation of besieged Nasser Hospital. Witnesses say Israel fired on the largest health facility in southern Gaza, which has been under siege for weeks.
  • The Israeli military – which used drones and loudspeakers to tell people to leave Nasser Hospital – said it opened “a secure route” to allow civilians to exit, while medics and patients could remain inside.

    However, witnesses and medical NGO Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) said those sheltering inside were afraid to leave after reports people were shot on the way out. The Israeli army also fired on people inside the hospital, including a doctor and a nurse. More info about this can be found here.

  • The UK International Development Committee heard evidence about the healthcare situation in Gaza from charities and agencies trying to work in the area (including UNRWA, Medical Aid for Palestinians, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Human Rights Watch). They reported that hospitals were under siege, doctors were unable to treat patients, medical equipment stores were running low and potentially devastating diseases were beginning to take hold. The situation now is increasingly described as catastrophic, with fears of widespread famine.

Covid Enquiry

Geoffrey Mitchell KC says that decisions taken by the Scottish government were not made easily.

He says the Scottish government acklowdges that public health measures implemented during the pandemic, “caused harm, exacerbated inequalities and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people in Scotland”.

He adds that ministers sought to minimise harm to all in society and in particular, the vulnerable.

This is not just an issue for Scotland but for the whole of the UK.

People in West Yorkshire have shared their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic with the UK’s Covid inquiry, you can read more about this here.

That’s a wrap on this month’s news round-up, before you leave, pick one that you found the most interesting out of our selection.

Stay tuned for next month’s roundup. Who knows what will happen in the next thirty days?

Before you leave, take 5 mins and reflect on what you’ve learnt from this

  • What surprised you? What was expected?
  • How has this improved your knowledge of healthcare developments?

Make a quick note of these reflections (bullet-points are fine) in your reflective diary. You might find it useful when answering medical interview questions!

Scroll to Top