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NHS finances are on mend but still cause for concern: Nearly a third of NHS bodies in England are still in poor financial health, despite an overall shift towards surplus figures. In its latest annual check of NHS finances the Audit Commission found that more than twice as many trusts (27%) managed their budgets well or very well in 2006-7 than in 2005-6 (12%). But almost a third scored the minimum for efficient use of resources, and a further 8% failed on all key areas of financial management. See www.audit-commission.gov.uk.
Fewer English patients are offered choice: Fewer primary care trusts in England are offering patients the option of which hospital to be treated in, the latest government survey of patient choice indicates. The proportion of patients who say they were offered a choice fell to 43% in July from 48% in March. (See Report of the National Patient Choice Survey, England—May 2007 at www.dh.gov.uk.)
Prescriptions in Scotland to be free: Scottish health minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to scrap prescription charges for all Scottish patients by May 2011. The commitment was first made in the Scottish National Party's manifesto ahead of the May elections this year. Prescriptions have been free in Wales since April.
Pain is poorly treated in Europe: Half of cancer patients in Europe have moderate to severe pain, and a fifth do not receive treatment for the pain, finds a survey of patients in 12 countries (Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 2007;21:51-3).
Ban on cough and cold remedies for young children is proposed: An advisory panel to the US drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, has recommended that cough and cold remedies containing decongestants, antihistamines, or cough suppressants be banned in children under the age of 6 years. The move has been prompted by safety fears and a lack of solid data on their clinical effectiveness in this age group.
Gaza restrictions lifted: Israeli authorities have reversed “security prohibitions” on seven patients who had been denied access to urgent lifesaving care outside Gaza. At least three patients denied exit permits from Gaza for treatment have died since June, Human Rights Watch has claimed.