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#GPnews: MPs warn of six-month emergency services communication blackout

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15:40 Emergency services may not be able to communicate with one another for six months during 2020, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned.

It said this comes as the Government’s digitalisation of the radio system used by police, fire and ambulance services looks set for a nine-month delay.

As it stands, the new system it may not come on stream until September 2020 but the existing contract for the current system runs out in March 2020.

But the PAC has found that for technical reasons, the Government may not be able to extend the existing contract with its suppliers.

Committee chair Meg Hillier said: ‘The potential consequences of a six-month gap in emergency service communications are unthinkable.

‘Government needs to tackle this now or the result will be quite simply a tragedy in waiting.’

13:55 And it turns out it’s not just sugary soft drinks that are bad for us today – the no-sugar ones should potentially be axed as well.

A study published in the journal Stroke linked just one can a day to a much higher risk of having a stroke or developing dementia.

The paper, quoted in the Guardian, said: ‘Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week.’

12:15 About 100 community nurses will descend on the Houses of Parliament next Wednesday to call on MPs to protect public health spending in their election campaigns.

Unite said Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth would address the meeting, where nurses would draw up a checklist for MPs.

10:40 Responding to NHS England’s potential sugary drinks ban, the BMA said this wasn’t enough.

BMA board of science chair Professor Parveen Kumar said: ‘While this is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough.These unhealthy drinks have no place in the NHS, which is supposed to encourage, and improve, health and wellbeing.

‘Selling sugary drinks in hospitals sends mixed messages to patients and visitors, especially children and young people. It is also important to promote the health and wellbeing for staff, who are often so stretched that they have to use on-site vending machines for their food.

‘I would like to see the NHS go one step further and extend this decision to include all unhealthy food and snacks sold in hospitals, with a sugar content over a specific amount per 100 grams, to help further promote healthy eating.’

09:30 NHS England has given suppliers 12 months to reduce the sales of sugary soft drinks or it will impose a complete ban in hospital shops next year.

NHS England said suppliers that had agreed to reduce sales included WH Smiths, Marks & Spencer, Greggs, Subway, Medirest, ISS and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Also, by April 2018 hospitals must ensure that:

  • 60% of confectionary and sweets stocked do not exceed 250 kcal, rising to 80% of confectionary and sweets in 2018/19.
  • 60% of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals contain 400 kcal or less per serving and do not exceed five grams of saturated fat per 100g, moving to 75% in 2018/19.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, said: ‘A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down but spoonfuls of added sugar day-in, day-out mean serious health problems.

‘It’s great that following discussion with NHS England, big name retailers are agreeing to take decisive action, which helps send a powerful message to the public and NHS staff about the link between sugar and obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.’