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British medics are being thanked for their work to defeat the disease in Sierra Leone.


ebola protectionThe government extends a special thanks to the doctors, nurses and health specialists from across the UK who spent Christmas Day in Sierra Leone helping to treat Ebola patients. More than 70 NHS volunteers have travelled directly to the West African country to work in British-built treatment centres, while many more are working with local hospitals and community centres on the ground, supported by UK aid.

Their efforts are part of the £230 million UK package to contain, control and finally defeat the disease in Sierra Leone. Nurse Donna Wood joined the first wave of NHS volunteers to work directly in the British-built treatment centres. Since arriving in Freetown on 7 December, Wood has undergone training in the hot, oppressive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits that form the only barrier between the health workers and the disease.

Jeremy Hunt said "as part of our determination to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world, I want to tell you about two new important regulations that came into force yesterday". 


nurseThe first is the Statutory Duty of Candour, which places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform patients of mistakes which have led to significant harm or death. This is a key response to Francis, and a significant step towards a more transparent and open NHS. At the same time, the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council are consulting on a new Professional Duty of Candour which would mean that there would be an obligation on doctors, nurses and other health professionals to inform patients when something goes wrong. This is all designed to bring concerns into the open much more quickly, so that we develop a learning and improvement culture. I hope it will mean the NHS becomes the first healthcare system in the world that starts to get close to eliminating avoidable harm, including the 1,000 avoidable deaths we have every month across the system.


Further 5,000 are left seriously injured by devices including pacemakers and MRI scanners

faulty equipmentMore than 300 patients a year are dying due to faulty NHS equipment, according to a damning new report. Nearly 5,000 people were left seriously injured last year after using faulty equipment including pacemakers, MRI and CT scanners, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In the highest annual total of deaths since records began, 309 patients died last year in 'adverse incidents' linked to medical devices.


In total, there were 13,642 incidents relating to faulty equipment reported to health officials last year. Medics have also been forced to delay life-saving operations because their machines and tools don't work. There are concerns a lack of engineers to maintain equipment might be exacerbating the problem. Patients also suffered delays and injuries after issues with incubators, wheelchairs, artificial limbs, syringes and specialist beds.

Media multitasking 'brain shrink' claims unproven


Are there too many screens in your life?

"Multitasking makes your brain smaller," the Daily Mail reports. UK researchers found that people who regularly "media multitasked" had less grey matter in a region of the brain involved in emotion.

brainThe researchers were specifically interested in what they term media multitasking; for example checking your Twitter feed on your smartphone while streaming a boxset to your tablet as you scan your emails on your laptop. In the study, 75 university students and staff were asked to complete a questionnaire about their media multitasking habits. The researchers compared the results with MRI brain scans and found that people with the highest level of media multitasking had a smaller volume of grey matter in a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is believed to be involved in human motivation and emotions.

Given the option, would you want to think faster and have sharper attention? Research suggests that electrical brain stimulation kits could have just those effects. But now some companies are selling such devices online, leading to calls to regulate the technology.

It may sound too good to be true but scientists say the technology is promising. Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), which passes small electrical currents directly on to the scalp, stimulates the nerve cells in the brain (neurons). It's non-invasive, extremely mild and the US military even uses TDCS in an attempt to improve the performance of its drone pilots.

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