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#GPnews: Coalition of unions call for Queen’s Speech to end 1% pay cap

15:20 A coalition of public sector representatives has written to the Prime Minister to urge an end to the 1% cap on annual public sector pay rises.

The BMA, 13 other healthcare unions and the the Prison Officers Association have asked Theresa May to use Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech to end the restriction, reports Sky News.

The unions say that, taking inflation into account, the seven-year pay cap has in reality reduced pay for public sector workers. For example, nurses have taken a 14% pay cut since 2010.

The letter warns this means public sector employers are unable to fill tens of thousands of vacancies, and existing staff are being driven out.

The letter says the cap ‘has forced professionals out of jobs they love’, while ‘those who stay are overstretched and under pressure to do ever more with less’.

It adds that this is ‘having a profound and detrimental effect on standards of care for people at a time when the NHS is short of staff across every discipline’.

11:20 The BMA has urged the Government to ensure healthcare takes centre stage as Brexit negotiations begin, including giving permanent residence to EU doctors.

Following the announcement of the ‘Brexit Health Alliance’ last week, the BMA is asking the Government to:

  • Give EU doctors permanent residence;
  • Make the immigration system more flexible;
  • Protect reciprocal arrangements;
  • Secure access to research funding;
  • Ensure the UK can still tackle global health threats;
  • Consider the health service in Northern Ireland.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said this comes as EU doctors have ‘enhanced the UK’s medical research, brought expertise to the NHS and higher education, and filled shortages in specialties which may otherwise have been unable to cope’.

He said: ‘While we welcome the Government’s pledge to provide certainty for EU nationals working in the NHS, the time has come for it to deliver fully on those repeated promises by providing them with permanent residence in the UK.’

He also said it was ‘vital that the next Government ensures long-term stability for the NHS by protecting life-changing medical research which benefits from European funding; ensuring that leaving the EU will not delay the UK’s access to vital pharmaceuticals, guaranteeing that leaving the EU will not hinder our efforts to tackle global health threats, and maintaining a soft border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland to help ensure that cross-border health services and patient access to healthcare are not affected by leaving the EU’.

10:00 Researchers are hoping a new blood test could help boost prostate cancer survival by helping doctors pinpoint which patients would benefit from precision treatment, reports the Guardian and other papers this morning.

Men with defective BRCA genes could benefit from treatment with Parp inhibitors, and the new blood test could identify these patients. It could also monitor cancer DNA in the blood after the treatment was started, to determine if it was working, signs of evolving cancer showing the first signs of drug resistance.

Professor Johann de Bono, who led the team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: ‘We were able to develop a powerful, three-in-one test that could in future be used to help doctors select treatment, check whether it is working and monitor the cancer in the longer term.

‘We think it could be used to make clinical decisions about whether a Parp inhibitor is working within as little as four to eight weeks of starting therapy.

‘Not only could the test have a major impact on treatment of prostate cancer, but it could also be adapted to open up the possibility of precision medicine to patients with other types of cancer as well.’

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