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19 trusts to be referred to ministers over finances, 30,000 ‘silent carriers’ of CJD and an increase in gout cases

Following on from yesterday’s news about a sharp rise in the number of hospitals overspending their budgets, the BBC reports today that 19 NHS trusts are to be referred to ministers over their finances.

According to the Audit Commission, the trusts concerned have failed to break even, and do not have ‘robust enough plans’ to do in future. However, the report notes that the reason the Trusts were being audited in the first place was because of their ‘elite’ foundation trust status, meaning that they are among the most financially-challenged to start with.

The Government’s Science and Technology Committee have told fellow MPs that thousands of Britons could be ‘silent carriers’ of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

It is thought that up to 30,000 people in Britain could be carrying the disease, which can take up to 30 years to develop. The Telegraph reports that the committee identified 43 instances where the disease could have been transmitted during surgical procedures, due to inadequate hygiene procedures.

The committee called for an ‘urgent’ assessment of hygiene procedures in NHS hospitals. The committee’s chair, Labour MP Andrew Miller, said that the Government’s reponse to the threat had been ‘insufficient’.

He said: ‘We know that vCJD can be transmitted via blood transfusion because it has happened in the past, and we have reason to believe that prions may still be present in the blood supply, so there is a chance that it could happen again. However, in the absence of a reliable vCJD blood screening test, we are unable to discard those donations that might be dangerous.’

Forget rich food and a taste for the high life – it’s actually (surprise surprise) GPs who are to blame for a sharp increase in the number of people hospitalized with gout, according to the Daily Mail.

The number of hospital admissions for gout has risen by 22% in five years, and by 4% in the last year alone. The Mail reports that the rise means that GPs are not managing gout effectively enough in the community – although it generously concedes that sufferers typically put off seeking help in the first stages of the disease.

Rheumatologist Dr Weiya Zhang, who led the research, said: ‘There seems to be poor management of the condition in primary care – GPs don’t take it seriously and they don’t prescribe drugs or they do it inadequately.

‘But patients must also be aware that they should take notice of acute attacks. It’s an episodic disease and if they ignore the pain there is a danger they won’t get the help they need to avoid complications.’