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1,700 DH staff sacked, the global cost of dementia and Tesco’s hard sell on cut-price Viagra

Our roundup of health news headlines on Tuesday 21 September.

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of health news headlines on Tuesday 21 September.

The Guardian reports today that the Department of Health's cuts have struck very close to home, with 1,700 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals working on various NHS care programmes around the country to be made redundant.

Those facing the axe include dentists, dieticians, psychologists, psychiatrists, consultants and public health experts. The paper adds: ‘Most have spent years working for primary care trusts, hospitals, medical charities or in medical academia before accepting an offer to bring their specialist knowledge into the DH. Some have worked at the ministry for seven years.'

Professor Lindsey Davies, president of the Faculty of Public Health and someone who has herself held advisory roles with the DH, is scathing about the move, telling the Guardian: ‘These people are working hard to make a real difference. Losing them now, when there's so much more to be done, just doesn't make sense'.

The global cost of dementia this year will be £388bn, equivalent to more than 1% of the world's GDP, according to the World Alzheimer's Report published today. It's a sobering assessment, and one which has prompted a comment piece in the Daily Telegraph looking at the help and financial options available to families.

Research reported in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph this morning suggests that flu jabs can cut the risk of a heart attack by up to 19% (although in the Daily Mail's headline that figures has somehow risen to 25%).

Scientists at the University of Lincoln found in a study of almost 80,000 patients over the age of 40 that those who have been vaccinated with the seasonal flu jab were less likely to develop chest infections which can trigger heart attacks.

Supermarket giant Tesco is to start selling Viagra over the counter at 300 of its UK stories, the BBC reports. From next Monday, men aged between 40 and 65 with erectile dysfunction will be able to buy the drug without a prescription, although Tesco stress that a pharmacist will make the sale and ‘customers will be vetted'. Tesco are also adopting an aggressive pricing strategy, claiming they will be offering the blue pills at the ‘cheapest price' - £52 for eight, whereas Boots currently charges £55 for four.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know, and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

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