MSF survey finds hospital pharmacy 'staffing crisis'

Trade union MSF has claimed there is a 'staffing crisis' in hospital pharmacies after carrying out a survey of 300 hospital pharmacy departments. The survey found a total vacancy rate of 16 per cent, and 49 per cent of pharmacies surveyed said they had withdrawn or refused to provide new services because of recruitment and retention problems. Ron Pate, of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, a section of MSF, said commercial retailers could offer new graduates 'salaries double or more the meagre£9,000 offered by the NHS.'

Sacked Hillingdon cleaners fight on to enforce ruling

Sacked Hillingdon Hospital cleaners, who won an employment tribunal ruling that they should be reinstated after a three-year dispute over pay and conditions, are threatening legal action to get the ruling enforced. In October, contractor Granada Healthcare Services, whose parent company is on the government's low-pay commission, was given six months to re- employ the 21 workers. Former contractor Pall Mall Services was ordered to pay each worker£11,000. Granada challenged the ruling, saying it was impractical because of changed working patterns. Last week, the cleaners picketed a Granada shareholders meeting in London and said the company should be thrown off the low-pay commission if it refused to reinstate the staff.

Call for worldwide equity in cancer treatments

A panel of cancer experts and patient representatives has called for a 'new human rights movement' to 'ensure all cancer patients have access to the best available treatment' after analysis of World Health Organisation data showed survival rates vary widely across Europe. Delegates to the ninth International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment in Paris last week heard that colon cancer patients have a 48 per cent chance of surviving for five years in Germany, but a 36 per cent chance in the UK, where spending on anti-cancer drugs is half that of Germany. Cancer survival rates were better in the US than anywhere in Europe.

Compulsory treatment wins support as 'last resort'

A survey for the Mental After Care Association has found high levels of support among service users for compulsory treatment. But although 65 per cent of those surveyed thought compulsion was justified if someone was a danger to themselves or others, they also saw compulsion as a 'last resort' and said it should be safeguarded by independent advocacy. The survey was part of a consultation exercise on the government's review of the 1983 Mental Health Act. It also found that users wanted greater choice in the types of services and treatment offered.

All-party parliamentary group on CHCs launched

The inaugural meeting of an all-party parliamentary group on community health councils will be held on Monday. The group will 'provide a forum for debating the work and future activities' of CHCs and the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales will act as its secretariat. ACHCEW director Donna Covey said it would be the 'first time' CHCs had had an organised voice at parliamentary level.