Concern that staff could work 10 hours without a break, and the rest of today’s news

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The health union Unite is balloting its 450 members at the service, claiming the new rota has been “rushed in” without consultation. It is calling for staff to have a protected meal break of 30 minutes after working six hours.

The ballot will close on 24 January.  

3.35pm We’re hosting a free webinar on 5 February looking at the controversial section 75 procurement regulations and what they mean for the NHS and its providers.You can register to take part here.

3.19pm A major cause of premature birth may be caused by specific bacteria according to research, reports the BBC.

The research could lead to screening and possible treatment for women at risk of early labour, says a US team.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest certain bacteria may lead to thinning of the membranes around the baby, causing them to tear.

2.22pm The BBC reports that a medical superglue has been developed that can patch heart defects.

US researchers tested the glue on pigs and found that it could seal heart defects in seconds and withstand the pumping of the heart. The glue could be available for human use in two years.

1.47pm The NHS could reduce the length of hospital stay for critically ill children and save around £12m a year by changing the way paediatric intensive care units commonly control blood sugar levels for some patients, according to the findings from a study by Dr Duncan Macrae from Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

During the stress of severe illness or major surgery, blood glucose levels often rise to high levels, resulting in so-called ‘stress hyperglycaemia’. The research trial, which included 1,369 children at 13 children’s intensive care units across the country, compared the effects of allowing this natural rise in blood glucose to occur (conventional or ‘usual’ management) to the effects of controlling the rise using insulin to maintain normal  glucose levels (tight glycaemic control).

The findings of the study, which are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that there was a remarkable difference between the two treatment groups during one-year follow-up.

Among those children studied in intensive care who had not undergone heart surgery, tight glycaemic control resulted in an average length of hospital stay 13.5 days less that those children receiving ‘usual care’, in whom glucose levels were allowed to rise naturally. No such benefits were seen for children who had undergone heart surgery.

Dr Duncan Macrae of Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust said: “The findings of our study have important implications for the way blood glucose levels are managed in very sick children. Although we do not fully understand why controlling blood glucose levels during a child’s most critical days leads to a quicker recovery, evidence from this study suggests that doctors caring for very sick children, who have not undergone heart surgery, should consider controlling blood glucose levels more closely during intensive care.”

1.27pm In The Times’ David Aaronovitch writes about “diagnoses of exclusion” where a syndrome is diagnosed once all else has been discounted.

1.17pm The Care Quality Commission has found Weston Area Health Trust is now meeting all standards for acute trusts.

The regulator had found serious concerns the regulator was failing standards on staffing, medicines management, record keeping and the care and welfare of people using services during an inspection in April 2013.

During a follow-up visit in November, inspectors visited seven wards, the day surgery unit and the emergency department and also carried out a night visit to the trust.

12.56pm Protestors are planning a demonstration outside Goldsmith’s University in Lewisham today where BBC Question Time is to be filmed in expectation of Jeremy Hunt being on the panel.

The Save Our NHS protestors will gather to voice opposition to government cuts, privatisation and costly PFI contracts.

12.48pm GPs and patients in east London may be choosing private treatment because of dissatisfaction with services at Barts Health Trust, according to Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group’s latest board papers.

The CCG’s January’s board papers reveal that in the year up to October there was a £126,000 overspend on a contract with BMI Healthcare. The papers state that this is “almost entirely driven by increased elective activity in trauma and orthopaedics”.

BMI Healthcare runs the 84-bed London Independent Hospital which has four theatres, one cardiac catheter lab, an endoscopy suite and an intensive care unit.

12.08pm The Anaphylaxis Campaign is celebrating 20 years since its inception with several events andspecial projects this year.

The campaign was founded in 1994 by a small group of parents led by David Reading OBE. David’s daughter, Sarah, died aged just 17 from anaphylaxis to peanut in October 1993. Her death and others that were also triggered by nuts became national news at the time and it was clear there was little awareness of how serious allergy could be.

The campaign grew to 1,000 members in six months and began lobbying government to provide better allergy care. It set about convincing the food industry of the importance of clear accurate food labelling.

A helpline for those affected went live - over the last 20 years this helpline has taken over 100,000 calls. The campaign has also trained school nurses in how to safely manage and care for allergic pupils.

For details on the events taking place visit the campaign’s website or follow on Twitter @Anaphylaxiscoms.

11.48am Employers need to show more compassion according to a new report released today by the National Council for Palliative Care.

The report, called ‘Life after death: six steps to improve support in bereavement’, revealed that two-thirds of those who were bereaved in the last five years, whilst working, didn’t feel their employer was compassionate enough. The report also outlined that 56 per cent of people would consider leaving their job if their employer did not provide proper support if someone close to them died.

In response to the report’s findings, the Dying Matters Coalition announced the launch of ‘Compassionate Employers’. The initiative aims to support businesses that want to improve their approach to end of life issues by helping those employees bereaved or caring for someone.

The Alzheimer’s Society said: “It’s tragic to think that employers are failing to show compassion to staff facing bereavement or difficulties when juggling work with caring for a loved one. 670,000 people in the UK are unpaid carers for someone living with dementia. It’s vital that employers recognise their responsibility to support staff both at work and at home.

“This initiative is a great first step towards increasing understanding. However, more needs to be done to ensure carers in the workplace receive support before they reach crisis point.”

11.28am Barts Health Trust’s January board meeting was interrupted yesterday by a group of campaigners in support of former employee of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro, who was recently fired by the trust for “personal misconduct”.

One of the supporters read out a statement on behalf of the campaigners which said that Ms Monro was sacked for her role as a trade union rep after consulting other members on what Barts described as a confidential plan. The campaigners said to the Barts board that “it seemed you were determined to dismiss her” after the trust cited assault arrests from the 1970s that Ms Monro failed to declare to her employers.

Polly Toynbee has written about the case in The Guardian.

Seven of these patients spent New Year’s Eve waiting over 12 hours on a trolley, according to the data covering 19 to 31 December.

King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust had the highest number of trolley waits in the country with Wye Valley Trust and the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust following with two each.

10.52am NHS England figures showing how funding will be distributed over the next two years reveal 33 of the 95 underfunded CCGs will be further below their target allocations at the end of 2015-16 than they are due to be at the end of 2014-15.

Among them are six of the 24 groups expecting to finish the current financial year in the red.

The chief clinical officer of one of those six said his CCG was “very disappointed” with its allocations. Sam Hullah, of North Hampshire CCG, said the total funding growth of 2.32 per cent that it will receive in 2014-15 was only a fraction above the minimum rise CCGs were being offered and “seemed to virtually ignore our position away from fair share”. 

10.49am An elderly woman died from a combination of natural disease, stroke and the “misplacement” of a feeding tube into her lung due a hospital blunder, a coroner has said.

Andriana Georgiou, an 84-year-old grandmother, contracted pneumonia and died 11 days after the error in December 2012 at the Homerton University Hospital in east London where she was being treated for a stroke.

Finnish trained consultant Kari Saastamoinen made an “error” in using the “whoosh” test to verify wrongly that the tube was correctly inserted, Mary Hassell, senior coroner for inner London north told Poplar Coroner’s Court.

The trust provides services at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital. The CQC identified problems with A&E staffing at the former during an unannounced inspection carried out in September and October last year. Its concerns were sufficiently serious for it to serve the hospital with a formal warning notice.

In its inspection report, the CQC said staffing levels within the department were “significantly low particularly in relation to nursing staff and senior medical cover; especially midnight and throughout the night”.

10.43am Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital declared a major incident at its accident and emergency department yesterday due to a large backlog of patients, reports the BBC.

Additional staff and extra beds had to be opened in a situation which staff described as “horrendous”. At one stage 42 people were waiting on trolleys backed up into the x-ray area.

10.24am Also in The Times, air pollution contributes to the four biggest causes of death among men and four of the five leading causes among women, research has shown.

Data from the Office for National Statistics, commissioned by the campaign group Clean Air in London, ranked for the first time the main causes of death in each London borough over the past 12 years.

The leading causes of death among men in London were heart attacks, lung cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, strokes and dementia. Air pollution is known to be a factor in the top four and has been linked to cognitive decline in older people. The most common causes of death among women were heart attacks, dementia, strokes, lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

10.22am The Daily Telegraph reports that Nottingham Trent University reseach suggests around 60 per cent of women carry high levels of the ‘survival’ protein DACH1, which could reduce the need for aggressive treatments like chemotherapy orradiotherapy if they are diagnosed with cancer.

10.19am The Independent reports that families who live in social housing will be subject to the so-called “bedroom tax” if a room in their home remains unoccupied for more than three months after the death of a family member.

The National Bereavement Alliance has said that under the universal credit welfare reforms households will have three months before their situation is reassessed. Currently the stay of grace is one year.

The NBA has said there is an urgent need to review the financial impact of recent welfare changes on the bereaved.

10.05am Doctors have found that IVF children have a greater risk of complications from preterm birth to neonatal death reports The Guardian.

A study based on more than 300,000 births in South Australia between 1986 and 1992 found that babies conceived through IVF were twice as likely to be born early, to be stillborn or to die within the first 28 days of delivery.

However, the study did not look at whether IVF was responsible for the complications and scientists are unsure whether the treatment is responsible or the underlying infertility.

09.54am Foreign women could be charged up to £640 for an abortion under proposals being considered by the Department of Health, The Times reports. The government is also considering charges for contraception for visitors and migrants.

While women not resident in Britain are currently expected to fund surgical terminations unless an abortion is necessary on medical grounds, they do not have to pay for medical termination – the abortion pill – which is free of charge.

09.53am The Daily Mail also reports that the ‘golden age of antibiotics’ is coming to an end, according to the director of the Wellcome Trust, Professor Jeremy Farrar.

Professor Farrar said that infections could become untreatable as a result of resistance building up to the drug through regular use.

According to evidence given yesterday to the Commons Science and Technology Committee around half the UK population do not know that antibiotics are inappropriate to to treat colds, flu and viruses.

09.49am The Daily Mail reports that doctors and academics are calling for food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their products because it has become the ‘new tobacco’.

An average Briton consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day whilst the maximum recommended daily intake is 10 teaspoons.

Doctors and academics are calling for a 30 per cent reduction in sugar levels to prevent future health problems.

06.00am After the Francis Report and the inspection of Morecombe Bay Foundation Trust, Moosa Patel argues that strong corporate governance has never been more important.