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Bird flu at a glance

  • Avian influenza (A1) commonly known as bird flu is an infectious viral disease of birds.
  • Most bird flu viruses do not infect humans but some strains such as A(H5N1) and A (H7N9) have caused serious infections in people.
  • The primary risk factor for human infection appears to be direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments, such as live bird markets.
  • There is no evidence that the disease can spread to people through properly cooked food.
  • Controlling the disease in animals is the first step to reducing risk to people.

Suspected case of bird flu in Lancashire

There was an outbreak in East Yorkshire last year Credit: PA

A case of suspected bird flu has been found in Lancashire. A temporary control zone has been established at a poultry farm whilst the case of avian flu is investigated and all birds at the farm are being humanely destroyed. Public Health England's advice is that the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers. Under the restrictions all poultry farms within the 10 kilometre temporary control zone around the affected premises are not allowed to move poultry and other animals.

The decision to take precautionary action has been taken based on the clinical symptoms displayed by birds at the farm and emerging laboratory findings. The investigation into the suspect case and laboratory tests are ongoing.

We have taken swift precautionary action to limit the risk of disease spreading. These measures to control the movement of poultry and humanely cull birds at the farm are part of our tried and tested approach to deal with such incidents. The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers. I would urge bird keepers to be vigilant for any signs of disease, report suspect disease to their nearest APHA office and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.

– Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens


Bosses "deeply sorry" to grieving families for maternity deaths at Greater Manchester hospitals

Credit: PA Images

Bosses of maternity units at two Greater Manchester hospitals say they are "deeply sorry" to grieving families who lost loved ones in their care and are launching a major improvement plan of their services.

Senior staff at the Royal Oldham and North Manchester General Hospital called in independent experts to investigate the deaths of seven babies and three mums in the space of eight months.

The review found no deficiencies in the care of the women, but it also said improvements were needed given the number of deaths of babies recorded.

Gill Harris, Chief Nurse at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“The Trust Board today repeated sincere apologies to all of the families involved for the failings in care which had been identified. I have met with a number of the families and have reiterated the offer to meet with the remaining families, if they wish.

It was right and responsible to commission, last year, an independent external review of 10 incidents in maternity services, in addition to our own internal investigations. The findings of the review have been shared with the families involved and our partner agencies. The review of the incidents found that whilst the maternal deaths did not appear to be the result of deficiencies in care, further scrutiny and improvement was required from the review of the neonatal deaths.

The key themes identified in the review that we needed to focus on included areas around Clinical Risk Management, Clinical Leadership, Obesity Management, and a strengthening of our Serious Incident Investigations.

Our senior obstetricians and midwives have developed and put in place a comprehensive improvement plan across our maternity services, which responds to the findings of the report and to the Kirkup Inquiry. This is being led by myself and the Trust's Acting Medical Director. The improvement plan is being continually refreshed to ensure our services are safe, effective, responsive and well-led.

As part of the improvement plan we have invested in staffing and signed up to a number of national and regional quality programmes. We have reviewed a number of our policies, we are improving our staff training, and we are investing over £1m in strengthening our maternity workforce by recruiting 40 new healthcare assistants to support patients and our midwives on our labour wards.

We are starting work as one of the first early implementers of the Perinatal Institute SaBINE (Saving Babies' Lives) project across our maternity services to improve the detection and management of babies who are smaller than would normally be expected.

We have also been successful, as part of the national Sign Up to Safety Campaign, to introduce a centralise system to improve the monitoring of babies’ heartbeats before birth.

Our new partnership working with staff from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust commences early next month. We have agreed to take part in a shared learning arrangement (“twinning”) across the two Trusts. This is a really important and positive partnership that sits very well within the context of the national maternity review announced by NHS England last month.”

– Gill Harris, Chief Nurse at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

£5 million cash boost for new cancer centre in Manchester

A new cancer research unit is to receive a cash boost of £5 million from Cancer Research UK. It's all part of a drive to transform personalised medicine for cancer treatment and it follows the recent launch of a new cancer research building in Manchester.

Credit: Cancer Research Centre

The teams at the centre will analyse the genetic makeup of patients' individual cancers and the information will then be used to help doctors pick the best treatments, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and new drugs.

In Greater Manchester alone, about 13,200 people are diagnosed with cancer every year -- which is 36 people every day.

Credit: Cancer Research Centre

Breaking the stigma: 'You can live a normal life with a mental illness'

A teacher with bipolar disorder says it's possible to live a normal life with a mental illness. Nik Allen works with her pupils to break down the myths and stigma surrounding mental health. Whilst taking a class at Rossall in Fleetwood she took the plunge and told pupils all about her illness. One teacher responded by telling her she was a 'danger to children,' but Nik says it's had an astonishing effect on pupils opening a real dialogue about what it all means.


Tragic teen couldn't get the help she craved says mum

A mental health nurse from Lancashire is criticising services for teenagers following the death of her daughter. Lauren Johnson killed herself last year in Accrington at the age of 17. Her mother Dawn say's she fell through the gaps in care:

Dawn has set up mental health charity Lauren's Place to try and reach others before it's too late.

Mind Matters: Caring for the vulnerable out of hours

There's a warning cuts to mental health services will leave more people in crisis - especially at night.

Merseyside police say a quarter of all emergency calls involve mental health issues.

The force now works with specialist nurses on patrol until midnight but once they finish it's down to charities to take over.

Sarah Rogers reports on the pressures of coping out of hours.

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