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WHO updates ‘Essential Medicines List’ to help counter drug-resistance

Matt B



World Health Organisation has recently had its biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the Essential Medicines List’s 40-year history.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) altered the Essential Medicines List (EML) to categorise antibiotics into three categories; Access, Watch and Reserve.

The motivation is to ensure that antibiotics are available when the need arises and the right kind of antibiotic is prescribed for the right infections.

Research suggests these changes should improve the outcomes and reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria. It will preserve the effectiveness of ‘last resort’ antibiotics such as gentamicin and vancomycin.

The new categories by WHO apply only to antibiotics used to treat the 21 most common ‘general’ infections. In the future it could be broadened in the future versions of EML to apply to drugs to treat other infections.


The antibiotics in the Access group should be available at all times as treatments for a wide range of common infections.

WATCH Group 

The Watch Group includes the antibiotics that are recommended as first or second-choice treatments for small number of infections.


The third group includes the antibiotics like gentamicin, vancomycin, colistin and cephalosporins which should be considered the last-resort for diseases. They should be used only when all the other alternatives have failed, for example, for life-threatening infections due to multi-drug resistant bacteria.

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NMC says regulation for nursing associates moves a step closer

James M



The Nursing and Midwifery Council say regulation for nursing associates is getting closer and is expected by July 2018.

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has welcomed the Department of Health’s consultation on proposed changes to its legislation to enable the regulation of nursing associates.

The consultation follows the decision of the NMC’s Council to agree to regulate the new role, following a request from the Secretary of State for Health in January 2017.

Earlier this month the NMC released it’s draft standards of proficiency for Nursing Associates.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“This consultation is a vital step towards the NMC becoming the regulator of nursing associates.

“It’s always been our ambition to open the register to nursing associates in January 2019, when the first trainees qualify. But in order to do so, it’s critical that Government drives through the necessary changes to our legislation, to ensure that we’re able to protect the public from the moment the first qualified nursing associates begin to practise.”

The NMC expects the necessary changes to its legislation to come into force by July 2018. This will give the regulator six months until the first trainees qualify to complete the activities that need to be in place in order to open the register. This includes approving the NMC’s Rules and fees, approval of the final nursing associate standards and approval of nursing associates programme providers.

The consultation, Regulation of Nursing Associates in England, will run from 16 October to 26 December.

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Snacks sold in hospital shops should be under 250 calories

James M



Image: Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

NHS England says snacks sold in hospitals canteens or shops should all be under 250 calories.

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NHS Hospitals will be given cash incentives to comply with a new ‘healthy eating’ campaign which will see a significant reduction in the number of sugary snacks, drinks and confectionary inside hospital shops and canteens.

The proposals will also extend to sandwiches, which must be under 400 calories, and all other pre-packed savoury meals, which should contain no more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g. Cans and bottles of sugary soft drinks are also covered by the ban, as well as sugary drinks made in cafes and canteens such as coffees with sugar syrup.

Hospital chiefs will need to ensure that 80% of items sold do not exceed the 250-calorie limit in order to receive the cash bonus.

It is unknown if this ban will extend to third-party organisations such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks.

Research has suggested that almost 700,000 of 1.3 million NHS employees are overweight or obese.

Last year, controversial expert hypnotist Steve Miller said healthcare professionals should lead the fight against the fat and wants overweight NHS staff to carry ‘I’m fat, but I’m losing it’ badges to inspire patients and colleagues.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said:

“The NHS is now stepping up action to combat the super-size snack culture which is causing an epidemic of obesity, preventable diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer. “In place of calorie-laden, sugary snacks we want to make healthier food an easy option for hospital staff, patients and visitors.”

NHS England has pledged to boost the sale of healthy foods and end promotions of sugary and fatty or salty foods at checkouts.

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