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Jill takes her leave of NHS; AN NHS stalwart is retiring after 37 years of service. Health Reporter HELEN RAE explains.


AFORMER nurse is retiring from the NHS after 37 years. Jill Prendergast, associate director of facilities and capital projects, for Newcastle and North Tyneside primary Care trusts (PCTs), has been with the organisation since its inception in 2001.

Jill has held a number of roles in the NHS across nursing, moving into more strategic roles in business management and organisational change which has culminated in her helping to steer the PCTs through developing a new community services organisation NHS Newcastle and North Tyneside Community Health. She said: "I am going to be really sad to leave the NHS as it feels like the end of an era but I don''t think I will ever stop being an NHS advocate."

Jill trained as a nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and became a coronary care nurse before working in North Tyneside. She moved to Sheffield before returning as nursing officer at Walkergate Hospital, rising to the role of hospital manager before becoming director of patient services at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Jill was one of the original team instrumental in setting up Newcastle City Health Trust, which integrated mental health, a neurological centre and community health services. Jill was general manager of services including breast screening, dentistry and sexual health services to name a few.

After organisational restructure part of City Health Trust later became Newcastle Primary Care Trust (PCT).

"My passion has always been care of patients and although I have moved away from caring for patients directly, the best part for me has been to be able to open doors to enable staff to continue giving patients the best care," she explained.

Jill retires on Wednesday, March 31, with a retirement gathering before her departure. She leaves to start her own business, spend time with her husband Bill, who works in NHS finance, and their daughter Carly, 21.

NHS staff are more satisfied with working conditions than a year ago although many still do not have time to do their jobs properly, a survey found.

More staff received appraisals, said the NHS was a good place to work and wanted to stay in their jobs in 2009 than 2008, the poll of almost 160,000 workers revealed.

There was a drop in the numbers feeling pressured at work, being forced to work extra hours, or suffering bullying or harassment in the workplace. Of 40 key areas, 26 showed improvements from the 2008 survey, two deteriorated and eight remained the same.

But the report on England, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), said "there is still some way to go before all staff understand the vision for the NHS and before they are aware of the contribution they can make, both as individuals and as a trust". Just over half of staff said they would recommend working in the NHS and just under two-thirds are happy with the standard of care provided by their trust.

Nine out of 10 of all NHS staff felt they were making a difference to patients and most said they had rewarding jobs. But 46% reported not having enough time to do their job properly or said they were prevented from doing a proper job due to a lack of staff.

CHILDREN who are hooked on computer games, the internet or their mobile phone can now seek help from what is thought to be the first dedicated technology addiction service for young people in Britain.

Capio Nightingale Hospital, in central London, launched the service following calls from parents concerned about their children's behaviour. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham said parents told him their children flew "into a rage" when they were told to turn off their computer and police had even been called to sort out the rows.

Dr Graham, who is leading the new addiction treatment, said services need to "adapt quickly" to help young people affected by technology addiction rather than sticking with the same treatment models used for substance abuse.

"Mental health services need to adapt quickly to the changing worlds that young people inhabit, and understand just how seriously their lives can be impaired by unregulated time online, on-screen or ingame," he said. "We have found that many of the existing services fail to recognise the complexity of these situations, borrowing from older models of addiction.

"This is why Capio Nightingale Hospital has launched the first Young Person Technology Addiction Service."

FIGHTING cancer by forcing tumours to age holds out the hope of developing a "general" therapy for many different forms of the disease, say scientists. Laboratory experiments have shown that switching off a gene called Skp2 triggers ageing, or "senescence", in cancer cells. As normal cells age they lose the ability to divide and grow. Cancer cells, in contrast, are for ever "youthful" and go on dividing indefinitely. The new discovery opens up the possibility of tackling cancer by causing tumour cells to age, stop dividing, and effectively "go to sleep". Healthy tissue is unaffected and scientists believe the approach could yield the first true "universal" treatment applicable to a wide range of cancers. Skp2 is involved in regulation of cell proliferation and growth, as well as the formation of tumours. It is known to be overactive in a variety of human cancers. US scientists, whose research was reported in the journal Nature, found that silencing Skp2 stifled cancer growth. The idea was tested in laboratory cell cultures and mice, including animals with faulty biological pathways which normally trigger cancer. Study leader Dr Hui-Kuan Lin, from the University of Texas at Houston, said: "We discovered that Skp2 actually exhibits oncogenic (cancer causing) activity, which is required for cancer development in multiple tumour models."

Removing the gene to induce cellular ageing in mouse tumours did not cause destructive DNA damage, but pushed cancer cells into a dormant state.


RETIRING - Jill Prendergast says she'll always be an advocate for the NHS
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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