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A&E waits continue to slip, eight drugs to be axed from cancer drug fund, and freezing fights flab

A&E waiting times have continued to worsen in the New Year, on top of declining performance in the last three months seen achievement of the four hour wait target drop to 92.6% – its lowest rate for a decade.

The BBC reports that the latest data, for the week up to Sunday, shows this had dropped to just 86.7% despite targets of 95% of patients to be seen within the target time.

There is less up to date information in the devolved nations, but in November Wales achieved 83.8% of patients being seen in the target, Northern Ireland is achieving just over 80% and Scotland – which aims to see 98% of patients in four hours – was seeing 93.5% on target in September.

The Telegraph reports that a review of the Cancer Drugs Fund, introduced by the government in 2011, may lead to eight types of drug no longer being available on the NHS.

On Monday, NHS England will announce how many treatments will be ‘delisted’ from the £200m fund, but early reports suggest six breast cancer drugs and Jevetna, the only treatment for hormone resistant advanced prostate cancer, may be among them.

Cancer charities oppose the moves but, Professor Richard Sullivan, Director, Institute of Cancer Policy, said the fund was ‘one of the most poorly thought through pieces of health public policy’.

And finally, going out in the cold without a jacket might earn you a scolding from your mum, but new research suggests it could also be an effective method of keeping off the pounds.

The Independent reports that, cooling the body’s temperature acts as a trigger for converting harmful ‘white fat’ reserves into heat generating ‘brown fats’, which are used to maintain core temperatures.

The researchers from University of California, Berkley, identified a protein called Zfp516 as integral for brown fat formation, raising the potential for anti-obesity treatments in future.


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