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Charges for walking sticks, hospital nurses' hand-washing habits and the end of 'black Wednesday'

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 17 April.

The Guardian and The Independent pick up on Pulse’s exclusive news story about patients being consulted on charges for crutches, walking sticks and neck braces.

As we reported, the proposal to charge for orthotics - made at an NHS South Warwickshire CCG public participation group last week - is likely to mark the first time a CCG has considered charging patients for equipment usually provided free on the NHS.

The Guardian quotes Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary as saying: “‘he idea of charging for the use of essential items like mobility aids and braces runs contrary to everything the NHS stands for. What started out as an idea floating around rightwing thinktanks is now raising its head in clinical commissioning groups within the heart of the NHS.’

Christina McAnea, head of health at the union Unison, told the Guardian: ‘Charging patients for essential items such as crutches is the thin end of the wedge. Where do we go from here?’

Several papers also report on NICE’s warning that hospital infections in England are ‘unacceptably high’. In a report NICE said that one in every 16 people treated at an NHS hospital falls ill with an infection.

The Daily Telegraph’s take on the story is: ‘Don´t forget to wash tour hands, nurses told’. Their report focuses on NICE´s recommendations for doctors and nurses to ‘redouble hygiene efforts’ in order to reduce risks to patients.

According to the Guardian, infections can occur in healthy people, especially if they are undergoing invasive surgery or using catheters or tubes inserted into veins. Children, the elderly and the ill are even more susceptible. Common types of infection include pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections, the paper says.

Also in the Telegraph is a call from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to reform the doctors training system to avoid so-called ‘black Wednesday’ - the first Wednesday in August when all 7,000 newly qualified doctors start work. The Academy wants changes to ensure that newly qualified doctors are always on duty with more senior colleagues.

The Telegraph quotes Dr Simon Newell, chair of the Academy Staggered Trainee Changeover Working group as saying: ‘Evidence suggests that patients die because of the current arrangements.’

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