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Patient safety alerts warning, bowel cancer ‘lottery’ and smoking quit rates tumble

Our round-up of health news headlines on Wednesday 17 August.

The Guardian states that patients are being left at risk of harm in hospital and under GP care because health trusts are failing to act on mandatory NHS safety alerts.

Alerts sent out by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), like the one following the death of 18-year-old Wayne Jowett in 2001 came after he was injected with the chemotherapy drug, vincristine, into his spine rather his vein. Patient support organisation Action against Medical Accidents is warning that compliance with the alerts is partial and no trust has taken all the action required by the NPSA over the last year.

Thousands of patients who undergo bowel surgery face a postcode lottery of care, with many being forced to go under the knife for a second time, according to the Independent and the Daily Mail.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that out of 250,000 bowel operations, one in 15 required further surgery, after initial operations failed. There was 'considerable variation' between individual surgeons and NHS trusts, with some hospitals reporting no reoperations and others which had rates of up to 17%.

The number of attempts by smokers trying to quit through NHS services has trebled in the last decade. However, the Daily Mail says that despite £84.3 million being spent on NHS stop-smoking services, the success rate has fallen. The success rate is now 49%, the same as the previous year, but down on the 53% recording in 2001/2, according to NHS Information Centre figures.

Scientists have found a molecule in blood that could allow earlier identification of ovarian cancer, reports the Daily Telegraph. The discovery of the new biomarker­- an antibody forming part of the immune system- could pave the way to screening women at high risk of ovarian cancers or those with early-stage tumours. The research also revealed a link between the mesothelin antibody, infertility and ovarian cancer.

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