Latest UK Health & Medical News

Which? survey reveals consumer confusion over serving sizes

A new survey by Which? has revealed that consumers are confused by serving suggestions on popular foods. 

The consumer group found that people need more clarity to understand how healthy the food products they are eating are, especially in cases where buyers feel that the recommended portion size is unrealistic. In a survey of more than 1,250 people, a third estimated that a tube of Pringles (185g) contains 3-4 portions. The packaging states that there are 6-7 servings per tube, which equates to 13 crisps each. Quality Street offers information based on a serving of two sweets per person. Which? representatives suggested that unrealistic guidelines were making it more difficult for consumers to make well-informed choices. 

Number of women freezing eggs hits record high

The number of women who are freezing their eggs has reached a record high. Statistics from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that more than 4,000 people froze their eggs in 2021 compared to 2,500 in 2019. The significant rise in egg freezing could be linked to the pandemic, according to Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Education Trust charity.

NHS sees huge increase in traffic to hay fever advice pages as pollen levels surge

The NHS has experienced a huge increase in traffic to its hay fever advice pages amid a surge in pollen levels. The number of weekly visitors to the NHS website’s hay fever pages has tripled since the start of May and hit an all-time high on Sunday June 11th. One person visited the site every 3 seconds on Sunday to access advice for coping with hay fever.  In the week commencing June 5th, more than 122,000 people visited NHS England’s online pages looking for information about hay fever. Pollen levels are very high across most parts of the country at the moment, with many people experiencing more severe symptoms than usual.

Experts call for clearer caffeine warnings on Prime Energy drinks

Health experts have called for clearer caffeine warnings on Prime Energy drinks amid concerns over excessive consumption among children. 
Experts have raised concerns over unclear messaging on Prime Energy drinks, which contain as much caffeine as a couple cups of coffee. Prime Energy is not the same as..

Number of people not working due to illness hits record high

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that more than 2.5 million people in the UK are not working due to poor health. The ONS revealed that mental health issues have become more prevalent among young people. There has also been a rise in cases of neck and back pain.

Fears over hidden cases of high blood pressure in young people

Researchers have raised concerns over a growing number of hidden cases of high blood pressure among young people in England. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that approximately 170,000 young people in England have high blood pressure without even knowing. The data covers individuals aged between 16 and 24 years old. The figure of 170,000 equates to around 5% of young males and 1% of young females. 

Health officials encourage teen vaccination as uptake rates fall

Health officials are encouraging teenagers to have routine vaccinations as data shows that uptake rates have fallen since the pandemic.  Experts have warned that teens could be at risk of rare conditions following a significant drop in vaccination rates during the Covid pandemic. Statistics show that there was a 7% decrease in uptake rates for tetanus, diphtheria and polio between 2019/2020 and 2021/2022. The same trend was identified in meningitis vaccination rates. 

Health experts issue warning over viral #WaterTok trend

Health experts have issued a warning over a new viral trend known as #WaterTok. The trend, which has garnered more than 103 million views on TikTok, claims to encourage hydration by making water more appealing. While staying hydrated is vital for optimum health, health experts have warned that the #WaterTok trend could potentially be extremely damaging.  Influencers and TikTok users have shared videos and recipes showcasing sweetened water-based drinks as part of a ploy to make drinking water more attractive. The problem is that most of the recipes contain ingredients that are damaging to health and stray far from conventional hydration techniques.

Government announces new measures to encourage smokers to quit

The government has announced new measures to encourage smokers to quit. As part of a nationwide drive to help smokers to give up, up to a million people will be given a free vaping kit. Pregnant women will also be offered up to £400 to quit. The initiatives form part of the government’s commitment to reducing smoker rates in England to below 5% by 2030. Vaping is often recommended as a tool to h

5 million people eligible for spring Covid boosters in England

NHS England is inviting millions of people to come forward for a spring Covid booster vaccine as part of the next phase of the vaccine rollout. Spring boosters will be available for around five million people in England, including over 75s, care home residents and people who have a weakened immune system. The spring programme will launch on April 5th and run until the end of June.

Experts issue warning over dangerous weight loss surgery amid surge in popularity of medical tourism

Experts have issued a warning over the safety of weight loss surgery amid a surge in the popularity of medical tourism. The number of people travelling overseas to undergo procedures like gastric band surgery has increased dramatically in recent years. Reasons for the growing popularity of medical tourism include social media advertising, low prices, discounts and deals and NHS waiting lists.

UK doctors call for updated information on vasectomies

Doctors in the UK have called for information about vasectomies to be updated to reflect modern safety standards. A group of doctors from the Association of Surgeons of Primary Care has recently completed a review of the procedure, which involved analysing data linked to 94,000 vasectomies. The doctors found that the procedure is much safer than reports suggest and have presented the findings of the review at a recent conference in Milan.

New vitiligo treatment could be offered on the NHS

A controversial new treatment for vitiligo could be offered on the NHS. Ruxolitinib, a skin cream, could be available on the NHS if UK regulatory bodies approve it. Vitiligo is a skin condition, which causes patches of the skin to become whiter. It affects all ethnicities but is most noticeable in people with darker skin due to the contrast between lighter and darker skin. It is thought that vitiligo is an autoimmune condition. This means that the body’s immune system, its defence mechanism, attacks healthy cells. In this case, it affects the cells (melanocytes) that produce the skin’s protective pigment, melanin. The lighter skin patches are more vulnerable to sun damage.

Patients in Swansea to receive pioneering bowel cancer blood tests

Patients in Swansea are set to receive a pioneering blood test as part of a project designed to speed up the process of testing for individuals who have recovered from bowel cancer.  As part of a pilot scheme, around 200 patients in Swansea will be offered the blood tests, which will act as an alternative to colonoscopies. Funded by the Moondance Cancer Initiative, it is hoped that the tests will enable those who have been in remission to access check-ups and follow-up appointments sooner.

New research shows sharp increase in adults taking long-term sick leave

A report compiled by Lane, Clark and Peacock (LCP), a pensions and health consultancy, suggests that there has been a significant rise in workforce absence due to long-term health issues. Since the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, the number of people taking long-term sick leave has increased by over 350,000.

Councils call for tougher regulations to discourage children from vaping

Councils in England have called for tougher regulations to discourage children from vaping. Councils have suggested keeping e-cigarettes and other vaping products out of the sight of children in shops and including labelling, which makes it clear that products are only available to adults. It is illegal for those under the age of 18 to buy vapes and e-cigarettes in the UK. However, studies suggest that vaping has become more popular among younger children in recent years. Single-use products, such as Elf and Geek bars, have become particularly popular. They are widely available from newsagents and other high street stores and cost around £5.

NHS offers free DIY HIV tests to boost testing rates

The NHS is offering free DIY home HIV tests this week as part of a scheme to boost testing rates.

To mark National HIV Testing Week, residents in England will be able to access free home testing kits, which are sent through the post. The tests are compact and discreet. They fit through letterboxes and provide a result in just 15 minutes. Free HIV testing is widely available across the UK but most people attend clinics or community health services to undergo tests. Now, people in England will be able to order a free home test they can do themselves with minimal effort. The test kit analyses a tiny sample of blood obtained through a finger prick.

New survey suggests young people think stable employment would boost their mental health

A new survey suggests that young people believe that having a stable job would boost their mental health. A study conducted by The Prince’s Trust revealed that over 60% of young people think that stable employment would enhance their well-being. The survey also found that over half of those polled thought the cost of living crisis would be more damaging to them than the pandemic. 

Access to IVF for single women could be restricted in Wales

Plans to modify access to IVF have been put forward in Wales. The new proposals would restrict access to IVF for single people and women aged over 40. Under draft guidelines, access would improve for heterosexual couples where the woman is aged under 40.

NICE publishes new guidelines to improve mental health care in England and Wales

NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has published new guidelines to improve mental health care in England and Wales.
The new information is designed to improve mental health outcomes and service provision and covers a wide range of issues, including reducing antidepression medication dosage gradually and paying more attention to the ethnic backgrounds of patients.

New guidelines recommend medication and surgery for some obese children in the US

New guidelines in the US recommend early intervention, including medication and surgery, for some obese children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidance on child obesity for the first time in 15 years on Monday 9th January. One of the key points was to recommend treatment early rather than delaying therapies or interventions, which could increase risks. Statistics show that almost 15 million young people in the US are classed as obese.

Health experts urge parents to keep children off school if they are unwell

Health experts have urged parents to try to keep their children off school if they feel unwell to reduce pressure on the NHS. Hospitals have experienced a dramatic surge in cases of flu in the last month and there has also been an increase in Covid cases. High rates of flu and Covid are contributing to a ‘twindemic’ and there has also been a sharp rise in cases of scarlet fever and strep A this winter compared to previous years.

Health professionals issue Christmas toy warning after boy nearly dies after swallowing magnets

Healthcare professionals have issued a warning to parents in the run-up to Christmas after a 4-year-old boy nearly died after swallowing 52 magnets.
Christmas is traditionally a time when children receive presents, some of which are made up of small parts, magnets and batteries. While health professionals want children to enjoy playing with toys over the festive period, they are urging parents to be vigilant.

Wales experiences record number of scarlet fever cases

Officials in Wales have reported a surge in cases of scarlet fever.

Data from Public Health Wales shows that 866 cases of scarlet fever were identified in Wales last week (week commencing 5th December). This is the highest weekly tally since records began and represents an increase of 473.5% from the previous week. Despite the sharp increase in cases, health officials have urged people to interpret the data “with caution.” Dr Chris Williams, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health Wales, stressed that there has been an increase in case numbers, but that there are several contributing factors. Public awareness of the infection is heightened due to campaigns in recent weeks and GPs have been encouraged to report cases promptly. 

Health officials urge parents to be wary of Strep A symptoms following rise in cases

Health officials are urging parents to look out for symptoms of Strep A following a rise in cases.  Strep A is a strain of bacteria, which can be found in the throat or on the skin. In the vast majority of cases, people carry the bacteria without knowing it and it causes them no harm. Some people, however, develop symptoms of Strep A infection, which can cause severe illness. It is possible to pass on the bacteria through coughing and sneezing or via close contact. This is why outbreaks in settings like nurseries, schools and care homes can occur.

World Health Organization confirms new name for monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that monkeypox will now be known as mpox. The WHO has changed guidance following complaints about racist language and stigma attached to monkeypox. For the next year, monkeypox will be used alongside mpox to phase out use and allow people to adjust before the term becomes obsolete. 

NHS heating trial expanded following successful pilot

A health trial, which involves paying for heating for at-risk individuals, has been expanded following a successful pilot. As part of the new initiative, more than 1,100 households in Gloucestershire, Aberdeen and Teesside, will receive financial assistance to keep warm this winter. The newly expanded programme comes after positive feedback from a pilot experiment in Gloucestershire last winter. The trial ran from November 2021 to March 2022 and involved 28 low-income households. 

UK regulator approves antibody shot for RSV

The UK regulator has approved a new antibody treatment for RSV, a common seasonal winter virus, which affects babies and young children. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of hospital admission among under 5s in the UK. In most cases, RSV causes coughing and colds, but some children develop a more severe illness. In young children, the virus carries a risk of pneumonia and bronchiolitis, lung conditions, which can be very serious in infants. 

UK scientists trial world-first lab-grown blood donation

UK scientists are trialling lab-grown blood donation in a world first. Researchers are testing tiny quantities of lab-grown blood to see how it acts in the body. The primary aim of the trial is to determine whether it is possible to manufacture samples for people with extremely rare blood groups, including people who rely on transfusions for diseases such as sickle cell anaemia. 

Dental teams support Mouth Cancer Action Month

Dental teams up and down the UK are participating in events and activities to support Mouth Cancer Action Month. The annual campaign, which takes place in November and is run by the Oral Health Foundation and the Mouth Cancer Foundation, is designed to raise awareness of mouth cancer. In the last decade, the number of cases of oral cancer in the UK has risen by over 30%. Throughout the month of November, dental practices and community dental teams will be running events and screening initiatives to raise awareness of oral cancer and encourage people to look out for symptoms and attend regular dental check-ups. Screening for oral cancer is included in routine NHS dental appointments. 

Health experts suggest flu season has arrived early, as hospital cases rise

Health experts have suggested that flu season has arrived early in England, as hospital cases continue to rise. Statistics show that there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases of flu in the last week, indicating that the UK could be in for a significant wave this winter. There are fears that immunity to the common seasonal illness will be lower than normal, due to a decrease in infection levels during the pandemic. 

Thousands of appointments booked following plea for blood donations

More than 10,000 appointments were booked within 24 hours following an urgent plea for blood donations from NHS England.  NHS England put out the alert on Wednesday 12th October when stocks hit a critical level. Usually, the NHS has a minimum of six days’ worth of blood supplies to use for transfusions and surgical procedures, but stocks are running lower than normal. By the time the NHS sent out the call for donors, levels were predicted to hit two days’ worth.

Experts encourage the public to protect the most vulnerable, as Covid rates rise

Health experts are encouraging the public to protect the most vulnerable, as Covid infection rates continue to rise across the UK.

Covid rates rose in September, ONS figures confirm

Covid-19 rates rose in September, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The most recent data from the ONS suggests that infection rates increased by 14% in the week ending September 20th. This represents the most substantial rise since the start of the summer.

A new study suggests that larger breakfasts could aid weight loss by controlling appetite

Researchers found that eating a substantial breakfast was linked to improved calorie control throughout the day. A team from Aberdeen University discovered that people burned the same number of calories through the day no matter when they consumed their largest meal. However, those that had a big breakfast were less likely to feel hungry later in the day. 

Covid infections fall to lowest rates since October 2021

Covid infections have fallen to the lowest rate since October 2021 in the UK. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that fewer than one million people in the UK now have Covid-19. This equates to around 1 in 70 people and is a dramatic decrease from 1 in 15 in July.

South Korea reports world’s lowest fertility rate for the second time

South Korea has recorded the world’s lowest fertility rate for the second time. New figures have raised concerns, with statistics revealing a further decline since 2018. In 2018, the country reported a birth rate of less than 1.0 for the first time. The latest data shows that the rate has fallen from 0.84 to 0.81. This is the sixth consecutive year of decreases.

Monkeypox vaccine rollout paused due to stock shortages

The monkeypox vaccine rollout has been paused in some parts of the country, including Brighton, due to stock shortages. The BBC revealed that shortages of monkeypox vaccine had caused the programme to stall over the weekend of the 13th-14th August in Brighton and Hove. There are fears that more areas could be affected in the coming days and weeks if supplies are not bolstered. Brighton MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, confirmed that only those who had an appointment booked already would be able to access the vaccine until more stocks arrive. 

90% of dental practices in the UK are not accepting new adult patients, BBC investigation confirms

A BBC investigation has revealed that 90% of UK dental practices are not taking on new adult NHS patients. 

Climate change could make hay fever worse, scientists claim

Scientists claim that climate change could make hay fever symptoms worse in the UK. After weeks of warm weather, many people across the country have reported symptoms of hay fever, such as an itchy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Hay fever is common, but is it becoming more prevalent and why are some people experiencing more severe symptoms?

Brits urged to watch out for symptoms of heatstroke as temperatures top 30 degrees

Brits have been urged to watch out for symptoms of heatstroke and exhaustion, as temperatures reach over 30 degrees. Across parts of England, temperatures have soared to over 30 degrees, with several days of bright sunshine and blue skies expected in the coming fortnight. In the South East and London, the mercury rose to 33 degrees earlier this week. Although it will be slightly cooler between the 13th and 15th July, temperatures could peak at over 35 degrees over the coming weekend and during the start of the week commencing 18th July. 

Health chief issues warning over Covid hospital admissions, as case numbers soar

The chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning over Covid hospital admissions, as case numbers continue to rise.

The latest statistics show that Covid cases have soared by 32% in a week. Dame Jenny Harries suggested that hospital admissions are expected to rise following a sharp increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 across the UK. Despite the leap in case numbers, Dame Jenny has advised people not to panic, but to go “about their normal lives” in a “precautionary way.”

Polio detected in sewage samples in London

Health officials have confirmed that the virus responsible for causing polio has been detected in sewage samples in London. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggested that there have been several positive polio virus samples collected from Beckton sewage works in the last four months. The works, which service households with a population of more than 4 million people, are located in East London.

Health experts suggest monkeypox is ‘containable’ as over 80 cases reported outside of Africa

The World Health Organization has described the monkeypox outbreak as ‘containable’ as more than 80 cases have been reported outside of Africa.

Bath hospital trials new ovarian cancer treatment

A hospital in Bath is trialling a new treatment for ovarian cancer. Doctors at the Royal United Hospital in Bath are utilising new equipment to treat patients with ovarian cancer. The PlasmaJet Ultra targets cancerous cells without damaging surrounding tissue. Jonathan Frost, consultant gynaecological consultant, explained that the technology uses ionised argon gas to “vaporise tumour from tissue more precisely.”

Glastonbury fan with terminal cancer to get final wish as hundreds support fundraising drive

A Glastonbury fan who was diagnosed with cancer in May is to get his dying wish after hundreds of people donated money to enable him to get to this year’s festival. 
Nigel Stonehouse, 58, was diagnosed with cancer in May. He was due to go to Glastonbury, which starts on June 23rd but was told that he was too ill to travel. The former bricklayer was devastated, as he has been going to Glastonbury for over 30 years and he was desperate to get there one more time. 

Cervical screening to change in the UK with HPV tests meaning fewer smears

Cervical screening is changing across the UK, with a new HPV test meaning that women will only need five-yearly smears. Previously, women were invited for a smear test every 3 years.

New ONS data shows record fall in Covid-19 infection rates

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a record fall in Covid-19 infection rates.  The latest data from the ONS suggests that approximately 2.87 million people in the UK would have tested postive for Covid in the week ending 23rd April. This represents a record decrease of 900,000 cases in one week. 

HRT shortage causes widespread anxiety among women

Women across the UK are experiencing anxiety about accessing drugs as a result of a shortage of HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Reports suggest that up to two-thirds of pharmacies are experiencing daily shortages of HRT medications due to a surge in the demand for treatment. The lack of drugs is causing concern among women who are having difficulty accessing supplies.

Tens of thousands of UK women could experience PTSD symptoms after miscarriage

A leading expert in miscarriage has warned that tens of thousands of women in the UK could experience symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after a miscarriage.  Prof Tom Bourne, from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London, believes that up to 45,000 women could be affected every year. Estimates suggest that around 250,000 women have miscarriages every year in the UK, but rates are not monitored, which means that numbers could be much higher. The majority of miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy. 

New symptoms added to official Covid-19 list

A host of new symptoms have been added to the official Covid-19 list. 

Updated guidelines from the UK Health Security Agency contain nine additional symptoms, including a sore throat, diarrhoea and muscle aches. The original list of symptoms included fever, a new, persistent cough and loss of taste and smell. 

Study links teen social media use to low life satisfaction levels

A new study suggests that teenagers who use social media are likely to have lower levels of life satisfaction.   

BBC investigation shines spotlight on harmful tanning products promoted by influencers

A BBC investigation has revealed influencers are promoting harmful tanning products on social media. Researchers working for BBC News found that several social media influencers were advertising products that are illegal in the UK. The banned products contain Melanotan-2, an artificial hormone, which speeds up the tanning process. 

Ukrainian children have arrived in the UK to undergo cancer treatment

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed that 21 children had been flown to the UK to receive life-saving cancer treatment. The government arranged a special flight on Sunday 13th March following pleas from ministers in Poland. The children were accompanied by members of their families and NHS medical staff...

US study suggests no deaths linked to Covid vaccines

A major US study suggests that Covid vaccines are not linked to deaths after vaccination. 

Charity calls for urgent action to improve lung disease death rates

Asthma and Lung UK has called for urgent action to improve lung disease death rates after research revealed the number of people that die with lung conditions in the UK surpassed those of any country in Western Europe.

Eating a lot of vegetables is not sufficient to reduce heart disease risk, study confirms

A new study has confirmed that eating a lot of vegetables is not sufficient to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

40 million dental appointments lost during the pandemic, new figures suggest

New figures suggest that around 40 million dental appointments have been lost due to the pandemic. 

Weight loss injection set to be approved by NICE

A weight loss injection could soon be available on the NHS following approval in draft NICE guidelines.

Ministers set to scrap mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS workers

Proposals to introduce compulsory vaccination for NHS workers are to be shelved following a review of the policy, the health secretary has confirmed. The planned deadline of April 1st will now not go ahead. The move will mean that NHS workers who are not double jabbed will not lose their jobs.

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