HIV home-testing kits warning - BBC News

HIVImage copyright Getty Images

People should not use the Hightop HIV/Aids Home Test Kit, the medicines regulator has warned.

It has seized 114 of the kits, which could be giving out unreliable results, from two suppliers in the UK.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advises anyone who has used one in the past to get themselves tested again.

The tests did not have a valid CE mark, which means they have not met the required standard.

They were manufactured by Qingdao Hightop Biotech Co Ltd.

John Wilkinson, the director of devices at the MHRA, said:"People who buy a self-test kit online or from the High Street should know what they are buying is safe and reliable.

"Make sure the kit has a CE mark and clearly states that it is intended for home self-testing.

"If you are concerned you may have used an unreliable test kit, speak to your GP, sexual health clinic, pharmacist or other healthcare professional."

Cary James, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, said:"Home self-test kits for HIV and STIs [sexually transmitted infections] have many benefits, including letting people test in their own space, in their own time, on their terms.

"However, we are extremely concerned to see unregulated produce on the market and urge anyone considering a test to only use those with a CE mark.

"Anyone taking a test without a CE mark risks their own health and that of others." ...

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Green man road crossings 'too fast'

Green man crossingImage copyright Getty Images

The green man walking sign on pedestrian crossings may be too fast for elderly people to cross the road safely, suggest new draft guidelines[1] for local councils.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence wants to make it easier for people with limited mobility to get out and about.

Most crossings allow between four and seven seconds before the green man starts flashing.

But many people are slower than this.

The average walking speed for older men has been estimated[2] at 3ft (0.9m) per second, and 2.6ft per second for older women.

The speed for crossings recommended by the Department for Transport is around 4ft (1.2m) per second, but local councils can adjust the timing to suit their residents' needs.

The draft NICE guidelines also recommend that councils move bins, hanging baskets and any other obstacles that might get in the way of disabled pedestrians and others who may struggle to get around, such as parents with prams.

Prof Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said:"It should not matter whether you are on foot, in a wheelchair, have a visual impairment or if you're a parent pushing a pram.

"If streets, parks and other open spaces are well planned, everyone should be able to get around their local area easily.

"Safe, accessible streets and well-maintained parks can help people to get active and live longer, healthier lives."

Dr Justin Varney from Public Health England said:"Physical activity benefits everyone at all stages of life.

"People living with impairments are less active, and this can be due to the way the built environment, including public spaces and transport systems, is designed.

"Making physical activity accessible to everyone when planning spaces benefits communities in terms of health, environmental sustainability and economic regeneration."

The NICE recommendations are out for consultation until October....

References

  1. ^ new draft guidelines (www.nice.org.uk)
  2. ^ The average walking speed for older men has been estimated (oup.silverchair-cdn.com)

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Do I have to understand jam-making to be a nurse?

Polina Ralutin Image caption Polina Ralutin thinks the language test is too difficult

Polina Ralutin was an experienced nurse in the Philippines and keen to take up a post in the NHS, at the Lister hospital, in Stevenage.

First, she had to pass an exam testing her knowledge of the English language.But she was surprised to find she had to analyse a text on jam-making for the exam.

She told the BBC's World Tonight programme:"I had to look at a diagram of the process and describe how to make it - there was a time limit, and it was very difficult to achieve in almost perfect English - how to make jam."

Polina passed the exam and took up her post in April 2016.But she knows several other nurses who failed, and she believes the test is too difficult.

"I have good friends who had to take it three times," she says."I know plenty of others who struggled so much with it."

EU nurse applicants drop by 96% since Brexit vote[1]

More than 86,000 NHS posts vacant, says report[2]

The exam is set under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), run by the British Council, and used by many employers around the world.

It consists of four sections - listening, reading, writing and speaking - and the maximum mark is nine.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) uses it to assess overseas applicants to work in the UK and requires a minimum score of seven.

Some NHS employers say the bar is too high and it is hindering the process of recruitment at a time when it is hard to fill vacancies.

Many failing

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust runs four hospitals, including the Lister.

Management says it has found 140 nurses in the Philippines who are keen to come to the UK to work for the trust but who failed to get the required seven out of nine by half a mark.

Tom Simons, who is chief people officer at the trust, says he himself tried the test and passed but not with top marks.

"One section had a very heavy academic test - analysing a play and the light and shade - I found that quite challenging," he says.

He believes the test should be amended to focus on language relevant in a care setting.

"The language test has certainly had a significant impediment on our ability to bring nurses into the organisation quickly," he says.

The debate intensified last year, when the NMC extended the language test to applicants from the European Union.

Recent NMC figures showed the number of EU nurses applying to register to work in the UK had plunged by 96% between July 2016 and April 2017.

The NMC said the language test may have been a factor.Others pointed out the fall coincided with the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Different test

The NMC is now looking at whether a different type of test might be required.

Chief executive Jackie Smith says:"We are working with organisations and agencies and asking them what they think might be a viable alternative.

"We will put that back to the council to see if that is something that could be offered without compromising public protection."

But she is adamant it is not a question of watering down the existing test.

"Communication is the thing that patients worry most about," she says."Patients will say, 'I want to know that person listening or examining me understands me.'

"There is no prospect of us simply lowering the score in response to this."

Dame Donna Kinnair, of the Royal College of Nursing, says the fundamental problem is not the language test, but the failure to train enough nurses.

"We know that a good position to be in is to have nurses trained in this country," she says.

"So, while we are using nurses from overseas to solve our short-term supply, we need to plan for the long term."

Few would disagree with the need for long-term planning.

Some NHS employers, though, are for now focusing on the short-term challenge of finding more nurses like Polina to boost their staff numbers and provide high quality care to patients....

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