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The waiting game

Hunt says ‘name and shame’ surgeons, NHS ‘discriminates’ against liver patients and the patch to revolutionise vaccinations

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 14 June.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is in the headlines again this morning, this time for getting tough on surgeons. Hunt has provoked anger in the profession by saying that any surgeons who refuse to have their performance data published should be publicly named.

League tables for surgeons’ performance, including mortality data, are due to be published in England from next month, but The Telegraph revealed that some surgeons were refusing to have their data made public, fearing it could lead to a misleading impression of their skills.

But the Royal College of Surgeons said naming and shaming surgeons risked wrongly stigmatising individuals and harming patient confidence.

Also widely reported this morning is a study concluding that many people with liver disease are dying because of discrimination against them in the NHS. The Independent reports that the findings showed people suffering liver problems because of alcohol use are not being referred to specialist consultants soon enough, leading to unnecessary deaths.

The findings come from a study by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcomes and Death, which also showed that seriously ill patients were not admitted to hospital despite being in need of intensive care and estimated that one in 12 deaths due to liver failure could have been avoided.

Finally, the BBC reports on a new skin patch for delivering vaccines that could ‘transform disease prevention around the world’, according to its inventor.

The vaccine patch has thousands of tiny projections across its surface that release the dry vaccine into the skin, which has more immune system modulating cells than muscle and is more efficient at developing resistance.

Developer Professor Mark Kendall, from the University of Brisbane, said: ‘It seems that we may have been missing the immune sweet spot which may be in the skin rather than the muscle which is where traditional needles go.’

‘A vaccine that had cost $10 [£6.40] can be brought down to just 10 cents, which is very important in the developing world,’ he added.

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