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Gains that have been made in providing healthcare for older people in the UK now need to be built upon, members of the British Geriatrics Society (London) said in a report in an issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last week.

The authors acknowledge gains demonstrated in the care provided by the National Health Service (NHS) for the elderly but said that care still has gaps that need to be addressed.

A government report, “A New Ambition for Old Age,” issued last month, examined how the national service framework for older people is being implemented and cited new aims and targets under three themes: dignity in care, joined-up care and healthy aging.

The BMJ authors asked: “What has improved since the framework was launched five years ago?”

A third of older people in England needing intensive daily help now receive it in their own homes rather than in residential care; delayed discharge from acute hospitals has been reduced by more than two thirds; and specialist services for people with stroke and for those prone to falls continue to improve.

But such health gains now need to be built on, said the authors.

They said that despite older people being the prime users of healthcare and social services, investments have not been made in more specific services, such as general hospital care for the elderly.

Care for older people is still not sufficiently integrated, they said. The article said the increasing emphasis in the NHS on moving patients rapidly through the emergency system toward discharge may benefit younger people at the expense of effective planning and specialist assessment of the frail and old.

The authors added that the separation in the NHS of medical specialties from psychiatry also is hampering the provision of effective, humane and responsive services for older people with mental health problems, such as dementia and depression.

They suggested that better coordination of care for people with complex needs will be achieved by strengthening commissioning arrangements between the NHS and local authorities, to ensure that social care is not provided without medical problems being treated.

“This report contains much that is praiseworthy,” they said. “We hope that the levers set out in this report really convince providers of health and social care to reorganize their priorities.”

Gemplus gets Vitale 2 contract

Gemplus International (Luxembourg), a provider of secure card-based solutions, said it has been selected by G.I.E. SESAM-Vitale as one of the main suppliers to issue the new generation of French patient e-healthcare cards, known as “Vitale 2.”

These smart cards will replace existing ones that were rolled out in 1998.

SESAM-Vitale is one of the largest e-healthcare programs, processing more than 80 million electronic claims per month. The new smart cards will enhance the possibilities of the system, in term of data processing and secure applications.

The contract covers the supply of smart cards, graphical and electrical personalization and mailing services to million of end users in France.

Gemplus said it will fulfill the order through its local operations in France, in particular its personalization site in Gemenos.

The company said the market for the personalized Vitale 2 cards represents a total of 50 million units divided among three suppliers. The contract calls for the supply of a minimum of 8 million cards over two years, with possible extension over two more years.

“[We have] a long-established presence in the French healthcare market on patient smart cards, personalization services, European healthcare cards and healthcare readers,” said Jacques Seneca, president of Gemplus's Europe Middle East and Africa. “Local card production and personalization services linked with worldwide e-healthcare smart card and personalization experience helped us meet GIE SESAM-Vitale's requirements in this new program.”

The company's experience in healthcare stretches back to 1998, when it began supplying France's SESAM-Vitale system with Vitale 1 patient cards, personalization services and smart card readers. Gemplus said it has taken part in most smart card projects to date, including those in Belgium, Germany, Slovenia and China. It recently reported the delivery of 3.7 million smart healthcare cards to the Mexican government's social security organizations.

CIPP congress coming to Canada

The International Congress on Pediatric Pulmonology (CIPP), organized in 1994 under the initiative of professors Alain Grimfeld of France and Professor Jean-Paul Praud of Quebec, this year will be held in North America for the first time. For the 7th edition, organizers are expecting about 2,000 attendees from more than 70 countries.

The conference will be held in Montreal from July 8-11.

Professor Bruce Rubin of Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) is president of the group.

CIPP has been a success from the start, bringing together in Nice, France, in 1994 both respirologists and pediatricians around the emerging specialty of pediatric pulmonology.

The congress has helped create a close working relationship among specialists in pediatric pulmonology from both developed and developing countries around a number of common themes: asthma and respiratory allergies, respiratory infections and tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis and snoring.

CIPP is accredited by the American College of Chest Physicians (Northbrook, Illinois), the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Stockholm, Sweden) and the European Respiratory Society (Lausanne, Switzerland).

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