RCN Health News Alert

Tuesday 28 July

Doctors warned not to talk to patients about assisted suicide

The Medical Defence Union has warned its members that they could face a criminal investigation if they discuss assisted suicide with patients. The Union's solicitor, Ian Barker, said that members could be approached for advice by patients "as a result of the Royal College of Nursing stating in news reports that it wishes to 'engage in a debate' with its nurse members about assisted suicide and the recent media interest in this issue." The Independent has an opinion piece which contains a brief segment on the RCN's move to adopt a neutral stance on assisted suicide.

Doctors hours should not be limited during swine flu crisis

Campaigners against the introduction of the European Working Time Directive say the swine flu outbreak means that this is 'the worst time' to implement the new rules. The Directive will limit a junior doctor's working week to 48 hours and is expected to be introduced on Saturday 1st August. Experts say that with the NHS already under strain due to the swine flu pandemic, the new rules could leave gaps in hospital rotas and put patients at risk. The Daily Telegraph also features an opinion piece from John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who is against the Directive.

Concerns that 'over-prescription' of Tamiflu will place NHS under strain if swine flu virus becomes resistant

Health experts have expressed concern that Tamiflu is being prescribed to people who are experiencing very mild symptoms of swine flu. Experts say that the threshold for people being prescribed the medication is too low, and that the NHS would be placed under considerable pressure if the swine flu virus were to become resistant to the drug.

Parliamentary Update

• Both Houses in recess until Monday 12 October

Other business

• Health Secretary Andy Burnham announcement on national roll out of Change4Life convenience stores during visit to Newcastle
• Health Minister Ann Keen & DoH Chief Scientific Officer Professor Sue Hill launch Genetics Training & Education Programme
• Demos launch report on public service reform Less is More: How to achieve Efficiency in the public sector in London