This site is intended for health professionals only

Cancer inequalities persist, row over benefits of Tamiflu and nurses warn cuts will hit elderly hardest

Social inequalities are denying thousands of patients the chance of an early cancer diagnosis, BBC News online reports. A study of ten types of cancer in almost 99,000 patients in England found that closing the gap could benefit 5,600 patients a year, with prostate and lung cancer topping the table. Commenting on the Annals of Oncology study, Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of information, said: ‘We must address the unacceptable health inequalities that still exist in this country.’

The Daily Mail today reports on a row between the British Medical Journal and Roche over data on the effectiveness of influenza drug Tamiflu. The BMJ wants the pharmaceutical company to release all its data and internal reports on the anti-viral drug to Cochrane researchers who say they do not have the full picture. One of the Cochrane team, Peter Gotzsche, said governments should consider taking legal action to reclaim money spent on ‘needlessly’ stockpiling Tamiflu. Roche say they have complied with all legal requirements on publishing data.

And over to NHS cuts, where nurses’ leaders are warning that continuing with ‘salami slicing’ cuts to nursing staff will hit elderly patients the hardest. The Daily Telegraph reports that the Royal College of Nursing is warning that the system is under strain and it is unclear how a drop in the number of nurses can be justified when the number of people needing care is rising especially in the over 65s. Around 6,000 nursing posts have been lost since the general election and the RCN fear this could double by 2015. Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive said: ‘Rather than going through this salami-slicing, ill thought out approach, what we really need is fundamental service reorganisation.’