Tag Archives: England UK

How Ebola samples are processed in laboratory

BBC News 15 October 2014


Government scientists from Wiltshire are calling for micro-biologists to volunteer in the fight against the growing threat of the deadly Ebola virus.

Public Health England , based at Porton Down, is about to set up mobile testing labs in Sierra Leone, and hopes to increase the facilities available for testing several fold.

Dr Jane Shallcross demonstrates how Ebola samples will be processed in Sierra Leone



Norovirus in food outlets to be mapped for the first time

EurekAlert Jamie Brown 23 April 2014

The University of Liverpool is leading a £2 million Food Standards Agency (FSA) project to map the occurrence of norovirus in food premises and industry workers.

Norovirus outbreaks can rapidly affect large numbers of people. In 2012 a batch of frozen strawberries infected 11,000 people in Germany, but there are significant gaps in the authorities’ understanding of which strains cause infection and which foods are the most likely to harbour the bacteria.

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New research shows huge disparities between the decisions made by coroners

EurekAlert University of Huddersfield 7-Apr-2014

GOVERNMENT plans to overhaul the centuries-old coroner system in England and Wales have been bolstered by the findings of a leading police officer who has become a PhD researcher at the University of Huddersfield. Detailed analysis by ex-Detective Chief Superintendent Max Mclean has shown that there are huge disparities between the decisions made by coroners in differing districts, with the troubling discovery that the deaths of women are considerably less likely to be investigated at an inquest.
The result is a “postcode lottery”, claims Mr Mclean, who calls for a fully-fledged National Coroners’ Service, overseeing a reduced number of districts, headed by fully-professional coroners. This means that he backs an announcement made by the Justice Minister that the coroner system will be reformed, with new national standards drawn up, but feels the reforms could go further. His statistical analysis – now the subject of two academic articles – will reinforce this process.

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Link to full-text journal article

Link to earlier (2013) Jnl Clin Path article


Animal lab cuts ‘pose threat to human health’

BBC News 1 April 2014

Cuts to animal health surveillance mean Britain is at a much greater risk of outbreaks of devastating diseases such as “mad cow disease”, experts say.

The Royal College of Pathologists (RCP) says human health could be at risk.

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Car deaths in England and Wales ‘down 40% in 50 years’

BBC News 7 November 2013

The annual figures for people dying in car crashes in England and Wales have fallen by 40% in the past 50 years.
A paper in the Emergency Medicine Journal says this is despite the rise in the number of drivers on the road.

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Link to EMJ article

Public Health England to launch largest cancer database

BBC News James Gallagher 12 June 2013

The world’s largest database of cancer patients is being set up in England in an attempt to revolutionise care, Public Health England has announced.
It will collate all the available data on each of the 350,000 new tumours detected in the country each year.
The aim is to use the register to help usher in an era of “personalised medicine” that will see treatments matched to the exact type of cancer a patient has.

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Independence, reliability and expert testimony in criminal trials

Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Emma Cunliffe Published online: 18 Apr 2013

Since 2003, more than a dozen wrongful convictions have been identified in English and Canadian child homicide cases. These wrongful convictions are widely attributed to the failings of individual expert witnesses. However, the contemporaneous occurrence of multiple cases in at least two jurisdictions adds to growing evidence that the criminal trial process has systemic vulnerabilities to unreliable expert evidence. One source of vulnerability may be judicial reluctance to examine the independence and reliability of expert reasoning. In this article, I draw on an analysis of medical literature, expert reports and trial transcripts to propose five principles that may contribute to a more robust understanding of expert independence and reliability. These principles are: investigating the process by which an expert has reached an opinion; identifying the variety of sources of expert reasoning; ensuring that inculpatory evidence is not ‘double-counted’ by being unidentifiably incorporated into expert reasoning; investigating the relationship between published medical literature and trial testimony; and giving particular scrutiny to experts whose opinions change or become more firmly held over the course of a case.

Link to full-text (QH staff only)