Top Healthcare News Stories of the Month – Jan

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.

Children’s hospital inundated with measles cases

Birmingham Children’s Hospital has been inundated with the highest number in decades of youngsters with measles, health officials say.

Within the past month, there have been more than 50 children in need of treatment, the highest it has seen in years.

A very low vaccination rate in some neighbourhoods across the region has been attributed to the rise.

Measles vaccinations were introduced in the UK in 1968 and are estimated to have prevented 20 million cases and 4,500 deaths.

The MMR jab, itself introduced nearly 30 years ago, is part of the routine NHS schedule of childhood vaccines. It is given in two doses, the first before age two and the second before age five.

To find out more about Measles cases across the UK, take a look at this article by clicking the green button below

‘This is urgent’: the UK is scrambling to stem an alarming tide of measles’

Homelessness is 'health issue' not just housing concern

“People who experience homelessness are much more likely to experience ill health.” said Somerset Council’s health improvement manager Andy Lloyd.

Homelessness needs to be seen as a health and wellbeing issue, rather than just a housing concern, a council manager has said.

Given that the NHS has idenitified that people experiencing homelessness are more likely to face health inequalities, this is an issue healthcare professionals should seek to learn more about to inform their work. At Generation Medics we’re proud to be partnered with local homelessness groups with whom we support people experiencing homelessness to explore and enter roles in the health and social care system.

Health Secretary announces new women's health priorities for 2024

The Health and Social Care Secretary has named problem periods, women’s health research and support for domestic and sexual abuse victims among the government’s priorities for women’s health in 2024. 

Speaking at the Women’s Health Summit in central London to mark the second year of the landmark Women’s Health Strategy for England, Victoria Atkins said it would also prioritise improving maternity care and support for mothers who suffer birth trauma.

Israel - Palestine Conflict

  • Top UN chief decries ‘unacceptable’ scale of Gaza deaths as 25,000 reported killed. 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.

  • 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. 

  • “We have nothing to give them. We cannot operate and we have no drugs at all,” said Dr Subhi Sukeyk, the director general of oncology for Gaza reported by the Guardian.
  • 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.

Doctors complain to BBC over Dragons’ Den contestant’s claim ‘to have cured ME’

Doctors and campaigners have complained to the BBC and MPs about “unfounded” claims made on the TV show Dragons’ Den that Chinese medicine had helped a woman recover from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a disease with no known cure.

An open letter to the chairs of two select committees was organised by Action for ME after an episode of the programme, in which entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of investors, aired on 18 January containing “misleading and potentially dangerous information”.

Study reports Child obesity in pandemic could have lifelong effects

Tens of thousands of children who became overweight or obese during the pandemic could face “lifelong health consequences”, researchers say.

Obesity rates rose sharply among 10- and 11-year-olds in England and have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Researchers used BMI data from the government’s National Child Measurement Programme, which weighs and measures about one million Year 6 pupils annually in England.

The researchers say measures to tackle childhood obesity aimed at pre-school children are needed and are likely to be more effective than measures focused on older children.

“At the moment the interventions largely centre around a sugar tax, which has probably been effective to a degree, but it needs a much wider engagement.”

Changes to certain food placements in shops, a ban on fast food stores next to schools, and increased priority of physical activity in nurseries and pre-schools should be introduced into new policies, said Prof Godfrey, NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.

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!

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