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Bill to ensure safe nurse staffing levels 'needs amending'

A bill to make sure there are safe nurse staffing levels across Wales needs amending in order to avoid possible 'unintended consequences'. The National Assembly's health committee also says current nurse shortages may be a 'significant barrier' to implementing the bill.

The Bill aims to ensure nurses are deployed in sufficient numbers to provide safe nursing care. Credit: PA

The Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill, introduced by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams AM in December 2014, aims to ensure that nurses are deployed in sufficient numbers to deliver safe nursing care to patients at all times.

It also seeks to address the conclusions of recent high-profile reports on the performance of the NHS in England and Wales which have drawn attention to the importance of nurse staffing levels for patient outcomes.

The committee says it supports the bill's aim, but has made 19 recommendations it believes should be implemented before the legislation is passed.

Many of the recommendations focus on the committee's concerns that the bill could lead to a number of unintended consequences, not least the risk of diverting nursing staff from one hospital setting to another.

The Bill was introduced in 2013 by Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams. Credit: PA

The committee is also concerned that current nurse shortages may be a significant barrier to the successful implementation of the Bill's provisions.

The pivotal role of nurses in the delivery of high quality, effective care for patients is widely acknowledged and the committee welcomed the opportunity to scrutinise the bill...we believe that a number of amendments are required before this legislation is passed, not least to mitigate some of the potentially significant unintended consequences that could be created by the bill as currently drafted.

– David Rees AM, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee

Kirsty Williams has said she is 'looking forward' to giving consideration to the Committees' recommendations on the proposed amendments.

I am very grateful to the Health and Social Care Committee and the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee for their consideration of the general principles of this legislation, and to the wide range of stakeholders who gave up their time and expertise to speak with them about it. I am particularly pleased that the health committee has concluded that legislation on safe nurse staffing levels could be beneficial, and would build on existing tools and powers in this area.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader

What is proton beam therapy?

Credit: NHS Choices

Proton beam therapy is a form of treatment which uses sub atomic particles (protons) to target cancers.

Its advantage is that it can be focussed more narrowly on diseased tissue.

Conventional radiotherapy can damage surrounding tissue.

The proton beam damages the DNA of cancer cells which are particularly vulnerable to the treatment because they divide so quickly and have a reduced ability to repair the DNA damage.

It is important not to assume that newly emerging treatments are more effective than existing treatments.

Proton beam therapy may cause less damage to healthy tissue, but it is still unclear whether it is as good at destroying cancerous tissue as conventional radiotherapy.

As proton beam therapy is usually reserved for very rare types of cancer, it is hard to gather systematic evidence about its effectiveness when compared to radiotherapy.

– NHS Choices website

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South Wales could have UK's first proton beam therapy centre

South Wales could become the home of the UK's first proton beam therapy treatment centre which helps treat the most complex and hard-to-reach cancers.

The centre, due to open at Celtic Springs Business Park, Newport, by 2016, will see Wales leading the way in the treatment.

Credit: PA Images

There are currently only 40 therapy centres around the world.

The potential centre has been described as a 'significant inward investment to Wales' that will 'save lives on Welsh soil'.

Proton beam therapy provides a highly targeted radio therapy and has been described as a so-called 'miracle' treatment. It's estimated that by 2017 the NHS demand for proton beam therapy will reach 1,500 patients.

Currently people have to go abroad for the treatment, including two-year-old Freya Bevan, from Swansea, who suffers with a rare brain tumour.

Credit: Freya Bevan fundraising page

Proton therapy also helped saved the life of Ashya King who was recently declared cancer-free after proton beam therapy in Prague.

Credit: Family handout

This is an exciting and important development of the UK provision of cancer treatment. As things stand, patients who can benefit from this treatment have to go abroad, often at a great expense to the NHS.

The creation of these centres will go a long way to ensuring the very best of treatment is available in the UK.

– Professor McVie, Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology

Cardiff scientists discover cancer-fighting compound

Credit: Britta Pedersen/DPA/PA Images

Cardiff University says scientists have developed a new anti-cancer stem cell agent capable of targeting aggressive tumour forming cells common to breast, pancreas, colon and prostate cancers.

The new OH14 compound has been licensed by Tiziana Life Sciences, a British-based pharmaceutical company.

It will now undergo further development before undergoing clinical trials. Researchers say studies have shown it to be effective in eliminating a number of different kinds of cancers cells, including cancer stem cells from breast cancer patients.

The breakthrough comes almost exactly a year after the same research team announced that they had discovered a molecule capable of reversing the spread of malignant breast cancer.

Our computer aided drug screening process has now identified two new classes of anti-cancer agents, specifically targeting two distinct and novel mechanisms underpinning cancer.

– Dr Andrea Brancale, Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy

Tattooists in Wales call for greater regulation

Tattooists in Wales are calling for tighter laws and greater regulations on tattoo and piercing parlours.

Tattooing requires no formal qualification Credit: PA

It comes after five people developed serious skin infections after using a piercing and tattoo studio in Newport.

Health officials are currently trying to contact more than five hundred other people known to have used the parlour, to offer a precautionary blood test.

At present, tattooing and piercing requires no formal qualification, however owners of studios must contact their local council in order to get a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence.

Although the premises will be inspected, and tattooists must follow laws on hygiene and safety, there are calls for more stringent laws and regulations to protect customers.

The Welsh Government has said it is looking into the practice, and is planning to change the laws with details to come in the summer.

Read More: 'Health fears over skin infections linked to tattoo studio'

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