Ashtons training seminars and online presentations

The pandemic has made it difficult for hospices to arrange training and there has been less demand for Ashtons pharmacists to present seminars at sites. Consequently, Ashtons is now able to make seminar presentations available via online platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, meaning that all available staff with online access can participate in the training, without having to meet up in a room together…

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Flu vaccine uptake – winter 2020/21

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a national drive to increase the uptake of flu vaccinations, to reduce pressure on the NHS. Healthcare staff and people with certain health risk factors are the current focus for flu vaccination and this list may be expanded to include other people at risk. Ashtons have placed advance orders of the flu vaccine with suppliers for the 2020/21 winter season, but will endeavour to obtain further quantities if there is a demand…

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Disposal of Ashtons cool boxes and coolant gel packs

Ashtons have commenced supplying all fridge lines in the environmentally friendly fridge boxes in place of the polystyrene boxes previously used. The replacement fridge boxes are manufactured from wood pulp, together with the insulation inserts, and are therefore biodegradable and, being a paper-based product, fully recyclable. The coolant packs, which are used to keep the fridge box between 2°C and 8°C, are made from a low-density polyethylene (LDPE 4) pouch. The contents of the coolant pack consist of an aqueous (water-based) gel…

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Life support, first aid and mandatory training – update

The concerns presented by COVID-19, and the need to prevent its spread within hospitals, has forced many customers to put critical face-to-face life support and mandatory training on hold. The balancing act now is keeping up with statutory and mandatory requirements while simultaneously adhering to social distancing, restrictions on the gathering of groups and keeping everyone safe. While the HSE did allow extension times on the expiry of first aid certificates, the first aid training industry in England is confident that enough courses…

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Our commitment to you during the COVID-19 pandemic

We are currently living in extraordinary times, but please rest assured we are doing all that we can to adapt to the situation, maintain safety among our employees and ensure our clients still receive the same high quality level of support they have come to expect. Any interruption to our services, including the supply of medication, medical products and clinical advice, could increase patient safety risks. We are committed to providing continuity for our clients, while also ensuring that the health of our employees and their families remains a top priority…

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Safer medicines administration – cytotoxic agents

Cytotoxic drugs (sometimes known as antineoplastic) describe a group of medicines that contain chemicals which are toxic to cells, preventing their replication or growth. As well as being used as chemo-therapeutic agents to treat cancer, they are also used to treat long-term conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis…

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Two important studies for palliative care

We observe that people have a reduced oral intake at the end of life due to their symptoms or general weakness and level of consciousness. There is inconclusive evidence that artificial hydration is beneficial, with arguments against being the chance of it increasing the likelihood of oedema, ascites and death rattle. Arguments for are that it may alleviate feelings of thirst and reduce the risk of agitation.

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Pre-order next winter’s (2020/2021) flu vaccine now

The annual influenza vaccination programme has become an important strategy for protecting public health by providing vulnerable people with immunisation against the virus strains likely to be the most prevalent over the coming year. The best time to have the vaccination is each autumn, from the beginning of October, as this will provide protection throughout winter – the riskiest time…

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Drug choices for the management of secretions in malignant bowel obstruction

Presentations at national conferences and courses can have a lasting influence on symptom management. Following a talk at one of the ‘Oxford’ courses(1), an increasing number of prescribers are now using ranitidine to reduce the secretions which make inoperable bowel obstruction such a challenging condition. Treatment in the past would often involve insertion of a nasogastric tube…

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A visit to the Bel Hospice in Belgrade

In September 2019, the charity Hospices of Hope invited interested supporters on an insight visit to Serbia to see the new hospice building and meet the staff and patients. I have a family connection with Belgrade as my father was a Serbian pharmacist and our family supports the charity with the intention of trying to do something specific to help this particular site. There hasn’t been such an opportunity so far but this visit seemed a great chance to find out more in person…

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