Health E-news 21 August

Health E-News is a weekly update on policy and guidelines from organisations including NICE and individual Royal Medical Colleges, and news and views on health related subjects and research from trusted sources such as The King’s Fund, Cochrane, The Health Foundation, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care.

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COVID-19 related news

Joint letter urges recruitment of COVID-19 patients onto RECOVERY trial

In a joint letter sent to every NHS trust in the country, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers and NHS England and Improvements’ National Medical Director have urged continued recruitment of high numbers of patients onto the RECOVERY trial, which is exploring potential treatments for the virus. The letter also discusses the next phase of the research response, which includes preparation to support a number of large-scale COVID-19 vaccine studies and driving forward the studies on convalescent plasma.

Considering the evidence on the efficacy of masks

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, exploring the effectiveness of surgical and single-layer cotton masks on mitigating dispersion of large respiratory droplets (i.e. non aerosol), have made their findings available as a pre-print, non peer reviewed paper on medRxiv. The authors estimate that wearing even a basic, single layer mask decreases the number of projected droplets by over 1000 times in comparison to not wearing any face covering. The authors note that their research explores respiratory droplets, warning that any emerging evidence on aerosol transmission could impact the findings. Related to this, a separate paper in the BMJ calls for further research on the airborne transmission of COVID-19, and the measurement of viral aerosol outputs during respiratory activity and medical procedures. The authors in this case suggest that the infection risk associated with deep breathing, talking, and singing indoors is underappreciated and urgently needs attention.

Other news

Government announces creation of new public health protection organisation

The government announced the creation of a new organisation, with a primary focus on public health protection and infectious disease capability. The National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), which will bring together Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace, as well as the analytical capability of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) under a single leadership team, will start work immediately. Responses from a range of organisations, including the BMA, the AOMRC, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund raise a number of concerns. Primary amongst these are the timing of the reorganisation, the degree of independence that the body will have from government, and what will happen to the broader, prevention focused elements of PHE’s work.

Draft guidance makes new recommendation for lymphoma treatment

In new draft guidance, NICE has recommended use of combination treatment involving polatuzumab vedotin for adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The combination treatment will be available from today for patients whose cancer has relapsed or not responded to primary treatment, and who cannot have a haematopoietic stem cell transplant.

Findings from international study suggest efficacy of single-dose radiotherapy for breast cancer treatment

A study involving 32 centres in 10 countries, including the UK, has published findings in the BMJ. The TARGIT-A study examined the effectiveness of Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy (TARGIT-IORT), which uses just one shot of radiotherapy, compared to conventional external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), which requires daily treatment sessions over three to six weeks. The trial showed TARGIT-IORT  had comparable long-term efficacy for cancer control and lower non-breast cancer mortality.


NICE guidance

NICE guideline

NG125 Surgical site infections: prevention and treatment Updated

NG172 COVID-19 rapid guideline: gastrointestinal and liver conditions treated with drugs affecting the immune response Updated

NG178 COVID 19 rapid guideline: renal transplantation Updated

NG180 Perioperative care in adults

NG181 Rehabilitation for adults with complex psychosis


NIHR alerts 


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