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Skin cancer cases soar, 'safe havens' for drug users and discrimination over Parkinson's disease

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 15 April.

Rates of the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carninoma (BCC), are now twice as high as Government statistics suggest, according to a study described in today’s Daily Mail.

The research from Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Eastern Cancer Registration Centre found there are now around 200,000 cases of BCC each year, meaning it has risen 80% over the past decade. The cost of treating each case is £1,000 – with the cost to the NHS likely to be over £200 million a year.

The paper quotes the report’s conclusion that ‘resources to prevent, diagnose and manage the disease should be prioritised to help control BCC, which now appears to be the commonest malignant disease in the UK.’

A survey by charity Parkinson’s UK has highlighted how Parkinson’s disease sufferers regularly face discrimination because of their condition, the BBC reports. The survey of over 2,000 people found one in five people living with Parkinson’s had been mistaken for being drunk, while one in 10 had been verbally abused or experienced hostility in public. Perhaps unsurprising then that around 60% said they felt uncomfortable or nervous in public.

Worryingly, 10% felt had been badly treated at work because of their condition, while 30% said their friends treated them differently because they did not understand the condition.

Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK said: ‘Life with Parkinson’s can be challenging enough, but when that is coupled with feeling scared to even go out in public for fear of freezing in a busy queue and being tutted or stared at, life can feel incredibly cruel.’

Meanwhile the Independent reports that drug users in Brighton could be given a ‘safe haven’ to take heroin or crack cocaine under medical supervision without fear of prosecution, in a bid to reduce overdose death rates.

There are more than 2,000 seriously addicted heroin and crack users in the city, the paper says.

The plans have been drawn up by crime writer Peter James and former drugs tsar Mike Trace at the request of local MP Caroline Lucas and follow a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee last year calling for urgent piloting of such ‘drug consumption’ rooms.

The safe rooms are to be considered at Brighton’s next Health and Wellbeing board meeting in June.

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