A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Several ministerial appointments involving the UK Department of Health were reported earlier this month.

Andy Burnham was named as minister of state for delivery and quality and Ivan Lewis was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state for care services at the Department of Health.

Burnham had served as under secretary of state at the Home Office for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, while Lewis had been economic secretary to the treasury, both since May of last year.

Current Minister Caroline Flint has been promoted to minister of state for public health. Lord Norman Warner remains as minister of state for NHS reform, Rosie Winterton as minister of state for health services and Patricia Hewitt as secretary of state for health.

The ministers at the Department of Health also have been assigned new policy portfolios.

TachoSil new generation of surgical patches

TachoSil, a new surgical patch approved for bleeding control, has shown to be superior to standard treatment in lung surgery. A new study shows that use of the patch reduces air leaks and shortens the period of hospitalization.

Data from a new prospective randomized trial shows that TachoSil reduces intraoperative alveolar air leakage after lobectomy or segmentectomy by 43% compared to standard treatment. One hundred fifty-two patients were included in the trial, and the results also suggest a positive effect on the hospitalization period by reducing the amount and duration of air leaks. Patients treated with TachoSil had a mean time to discharge of 6.2 days, whereas patients treated with standard treatment spent 7.7 days in hospital on average.

The data was presented May 12 at the spring meeting of the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons in Cluj, Romania. According to lead investigator Udo Anegg, MD, of University Medical School (Graz, Austria), the results are highly significant.

"The study shows that we can [halve] the amount of air leaking from the chest tubes after lung surgery, and this is the case both intra-operatively and in the days following surgery. These results have a high clinical importance and could have a large impact on future lung surgery," Anegg said.

Anegg believes that the use of TachoSil will prove to have major clinical implications.

"Reduction in air leaks will not only lead to shortened hospitalization periods, but will also provide quicker mobilization by an earlier removal of the chest tubes, thus decreasing postoperative morbidity such as pleural infections, pulmonary embolism, respiratory distress and pain associated with thoracic drainage. Consequently, the period of antibiotic schedules and other medication can be shortened which in turn results in lower hospital costs," Anegg said. "These results are relevant for all types of open lung surgery causing alveolar air leaks, as the patch is very easy to apply."

TachoSil, from NycoMed (Roskilde, Denmark), is a new generation of surgical patches for haemostatic treatment. The patch is ready-to-use and overcomes some of the problems related to traditional liquid tissue sealants, which require preparation and mixing before use, may be washed away by diffuse bleeding, and - for some products - possess the potential risk of immune reaction to bovine components.

UK launches School for Primary Care Research

Patients in the UK are set to receive even better care in primary care settings and will have the opportunity to participate in more research in these areas thanks to a new School for Primary Care Research launched by Health Minister Andy Burnham last week.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research will receive 3million funding per year with the express aim of increasing the evidence base for primary care practice.

That will mean research into the huge range of areas of professional practice relevant to primary care. It will include looking at everything from the medicines a patient is prescribed, what tests should be run on patients to what general advice should be given about a condition.

The research is expected to help improve care for people with major health problems, for example the increasing number of patients with multiple long-term conditions including heart disease and mental health problems.

The school will investigate a range of new ways of improving care such as finding new methods of preventing ill health, and evaluating novel ways of providing information to patients and staff.

"Over 95% of patient contacts with the NHS take place in primary care. It [is] therefore essential that the decisions taken in primary care by doctors, nurses and patients, are informed by the highest quality, most relevant evidence," said Burnham. "The new NIHR School for Primary Care Research will allow enthusiastic, dedicated individuals to ask the right questions and set about finding an appropriate way of answering them. The vision is of research leadership and a world-class environment to conduct clinical trials and other well-designed studies in primary care and at the interface with secondary/tertiary care. This will provide considerable benefit to patients and the health of the population through the new knowledge gained by excellent research and the improvements in care and preventative strategies which will follow."

The five founding departments of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research will be at the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester and Oxford. The school will run under the directorship of Professor Martin Roland, director of general practice at the National Primary Care R&D Centre based at the University of Manchester.

A Primary Care Research Network will also be set up and provide a range of support for research through the provision of robust infrastructure, in terms of dedicated research staff and support services, to facilitate participation in high quality studies.

The NIHR School for Primary Care will be the first health research school established within the new National Institute for Health Research.

"We are moving very quickly with implementation of the government's health research strategy as set out in Best Research for Best Health," said Head of Research and Development Sally Davies. "I am very confident that the founding departments of the NIHR National School for Primary Care Research led by Professor Martin Rowland will deliver research outputs that significantly improve patient care in the primary care setting."

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