NICERachel definitely has a way of getting the message across - The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued a new guideline on best practice for the diagnosis & treatment of prostate cancer.  Around 35,000 men are diagnosed with and 10,000 men die from prostate cancer in England & Wales every year, making it one of the most common cancers in men.

However, it can also be a slow growing cancer and may not necessarily affect a man’s general health for many years. Although it is mostly found in older men, it can be diagnosed in those aged under-65 as well. 

The guideline, produced for NICE by the National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, will help clinicians to provide coherent and consistent care for men with suspected or diagnosed prostate cancer across England and Wales.
Press release ~ Prostate cancer: diagnosis and treatment ~ Rachel gets the message across ~ Cancer Research UK ~ National Collaborating Centre for Cancer ~ PSA Prostate Cancer Support Association ~ The Prostate Cancer Charity ~ Prostate Cancer Awareness Week 2008 (10 – 16 March 2008) ~ Everyman Centre, based at the Institute of Cancer Research centre ~ Making progress on prostrate cancer ~ Prostrate cancer risk management ~ NHS Prostate Cancer Programme

CLGWhen we get older - The Government has published a new housing strategy which claims to give older people greater choice and address the challenges of an ageing population.  Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing In An Ageing Society represents a shift that ‘puts housing in the frontline in both supporting older people's aspirations and preventative care, placing the needs of older people at the heart of policy making’.

Sixteen key features make up the 'Lifetime Homes' standard and will mean that wider doors, improved design of bathrooms and staircases big enough to take stair lifts will be a feature of every new home - ending the need for costly adaptations.

The government will review take-up in 2010, with a view to bringing forward regulation in 2013 if take-up in the private sector has not matched market need or expectations.  Research shows that better thought-out and more flexible design means these simple, commonsense changes could be made without significant additional extra costs.

To accelerate progress, from 2011, all new social housing to be built to the 'Lifetime Homes' standards - ensuring the public sector is leading the way in supporting older people. In addition, to better support older people in their current homes, the government promises to:
* Develop a national rapid repair & adaptations service which will enable an extra 125,000 older people every year to get repairs & adaptations to their home to support them living independently.
* Establish a new dedicated National Housing Advice & Information Service providing expert advice for older people
* Increase funding through the Disabled Facilities Grant to support more people make crucial adaptations to their homes now.
Press release ~ Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing In An Ageing Society ~ Lifetime Homes ~ JRF: An introduction to Lifetime Homes ~ JRF: The Lifetime Homes standards ~ Lifetime homes for all - Help the Aged ~ Accessible London: achieving an inclusive environment Lifetime Homes ~ Green Street ~ Disabled Facilities Grants ~ Housing Choices and Aspirations of Older People: Research from the New Horizon's Programme ~ Impact Assessment of National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society: Advice and Information, Rapid Repairs Service ~ Towards Lifetime Neighbourhoods: Designing sustainable communities for all. A discussion paper

VSONot all just thinking about ‘gold plated pensions’ - The first seven volunteers to take part in the Welsh Assembly Government’s International Learning Opportunities programme left Wales last weekend for eight weeks sharing their skills in sub-Saharan Africa.  The volunteers will spend two months working with colleagues in public & voluntary services in Zambia and Cameroon, sharing best practice, skills & experiences and developing their leadership skills in a challenging and rewarding environment.

As part of the Wales for Africa Framework, the International Learning Opportunities scheme gives managers in the Welsh public service the chance to share & enhance their skills with colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa.  The scheme is run by Public Service Management Wales in association with leading international development organisation VSO.

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of VSO, said: "Public services are vital to the development of every country, and this partnership means that Wales has a real opportunity to contribute to tackling poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals."
Press release ~ VSO - Promoting volunteering to fight global poverty and disadvantage ~ International Learning Opportunities programme ~ Wales for Africa Framework ~ Public Service Management Wales ~ VSO Change-a-Life Draw 2008 ~ Millennium Development Goals

DHGood news to lift black cloud of despair – Health Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled plans for a major new programme to train an extra 3,600 Psychological Therapists.  The £170m 'Improving Access to Psychological Therapies' programme is designed to help transform the lives of thousands of people with depression and anxiety disorders by offering them access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapies.

Evidence shows that psychological therapies are as effective as drugs in the short-term and longer lasting in the long-term. NICE guidelines on treatment for depression & anxiety recommend psychological therapies as part of evidence-based stepped care.

The programme will train a new workforce of therapists to provide both high & low intensity therapy and help ensure that over the next 3 years:
* 900,000 more people will be treated for depression & anxiety
* 450,000 of them are likely to be completely cured (as expected with NICE guidelines)
* 25,000 fewer people with mental health problems will be on sick pay & benefits
* all GP practices will get access to psychological therapies as the programme rolls out

Mental health problems are the largest single cause of disability and illness in England - accounting for:
* 40% of all disability (physical & mental)
* nearly 40% of people on Incapacity Benefit (and a secondary factor for 10% more of them)
* a third of all GPs' time
Press release ~ Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Implementation Plan: National guidelines for regional delivery ~ New Savoy Declaration ~ Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health ~ 'We Need to Talk' coalition of mental health charities ~ DH – Mental Health ~ Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) ~ British Psychological Society ~ DH - Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Guidance) ~ Choices in Mental Health: Psychological therapies ~ London School of Economics Depression Report ~ Unite/Mental Health Nurses Association ~ World Federation for Mental Health ~ UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-being ~ Mind ~ Nationa l review of adult specialist community mental health services in England ~ National Service Framework for mental health ~ Care Programme Approach (CPA) ~ Care programme Approach Association ~ Reviewing the Care Programme Approach 2006 – Closed Consultation

Home OfficeWith only a 3% success rate for rehabilitation courses, will it succeed? - Earlier intervention to get drug using families into treatment, new asset seizure powers to reduce incentives for crime and delivering ‘new’ approaches to drug treatment have been outlined in the Government's new ten year Drugs Strategy.  It also aims to cut drug related crime and reduce the harm that drugs cause to individuals, families and whole communities.

This year the Government promises to invest almost £1bn in 'Drugs: protecting families and communities', which builds on the current ten year strategy, by:
* extending powers to seize drug dealers' assets to demonstrate that crime does not pay
* placing a greater responsibility on drug-users on benefits to get treatment and back into work
* embedding action to tackle drugs through the neighbourhood policing approach
* strengthening & extending international agreements to intercept drugs supplied to the UK
* focusing on families where parents use drugs and prioritising treatment for parents to protect their children
* piloting new approaches that allow more flexible & effective use of resources including personalised treatment
* increasing the use of community sentences with a drug rehabilitation requirement, and
* developing support for drug treatment so that those who quit drugs are offered training & support in getting work and re-establishing their lives
Press release ~ 'Drugs: protecting families and communities' - 2008-2018 strategy ~ All about the FRANK campaign ~ Drug Action Team contacts' directory ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ~ Drug strategy overview ~ Treatment Strategy ~ DrugScope ~ Rethink ~ Adfam ~ Addaction ~ Family Welfare Association

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