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Special care measures for care homes, pre-diabetes label is 'unhelpful' and calls for GPs to offer 'holistic' care

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Weds 16 July.

Jeremy Hunt is to announce that special care measures previously reserved for hospitals could soon be extended to failing care homes, according to the Guardian.

The Secretary of State for Health will tell Parliament that care homes and care care services will face a ‘tough’ new inspection regime from October. Services that are found to be inadequate will be put into special measures, and shut down if they fail to improve.

Hunt said that the Mid-Staffs inquiry, which found that hundreds of hospital patients could have been harmed by poor care and neglect, had been a ‘wake-up call’. He said: ‘The big difference special measures has made is that concerns of patients and staff are listened to and acted on quickly.’

New research that has found that labelling patients as pre-diabetes is ‘unhelpful and unnecessary’.

The term is used to describe patients on the cusp of type two diabetes, whose blood sugar levels are at the high end of normal but who suffer no ill health. About one in 10 such people will go on to develop diabetes withn one year.

Writing in the BMJ, researchers from the UK and USA have argued that the term has ‘no clinical value’. Prof John Yudkin of UCL said that labelling patients as ‘pre-diabetic’ created ‘unsustainable burdens’ for healthcare systems.

The charity Diabetes UK have told the BBC that the term is ‘helpful’ as it gives patients the opportunity to reduce their risk of developing the illness through making healthier lifestyle choices.

Finally, the Independent reports that the NHS needs to improve care for patients with ‘multimorbidities’. At present, researchers say, health services are failing to properly co-ordinate the ‘bewildering’ range of treatments that may be offered to end-of-life patients.

A study of nearly 40 patients published in the BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care journal found that many were taking up to 10 different kinds of medication a day for conditions as diverse as dementia, cancer and renal failure.

The report suggested that GPs in particular should offer more ‘holistic’ care management  for patients at the end of their lives, with an emphasis on improving quality of life. One carer said: “There is no consistency in terms of seeing the same doctor all the time. So many changes, so many different doctors…. Each of them is very considerate but clearly clueless about the uniqueness of the patients.”

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