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A new 'SARS-like' virus, Scotland's resignation to heart failure and 'bed blockers'

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 24th September

A gloomy morning and some suitably doom-filled headlines, as the Telegraph and the BBC warn that a new ‘SARS-like' virus has been identified in the UK.

A 49-year-old Qatari man was admitted to hospital in Doha, Qatar on 7 September and was transferred by air ambulance to Britain on 11 September. The UK Health Protection Agency has since confirmed that he is suffering from a new coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses including both the common cold and SARS, which killed 800 people globally after a Chinese outbreak in 2002. The Qatar national is the second known case of this novel coronavirus. The first, a patient in Saudi Arabia, has since died.

However, Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, has said that at this stage the new virus seems unlikely to prove a serious concern.

 

More bad news from the Telegraph, as it reports that our current system of care is in danger of becoming ‘unsustainable'. NHS patients will start to see ‘severe' reductions in care if an estimated £2billion gap in funding for elderly care is not met, according to a report by the NHS Confederation.

The report warns that the current government scheme, transferring hundreds of millions of pounds from the NHS budget to care for the elderly, is only a temporary ‘sticking plaster'.

It also estimates that ‘bed blocking' is costing the NHS £200million a year – a cost likely to rise as decreasing social care makes it even harder to discharge elderly patients from hospital.

The Daily Mail leads with these figures, declaring in its headline that the NHS spends £4m a week on ‘bed-blockers'. It cites Department of Health figures showing that these elderly patients spent 76,000 unnecessary days a month in hospital last year, up 10 per cent on the previous year.

 

And if all this bad news has you feeling heavy-hearted, you might want to skip this last story.

The BBC reports that MSPs have discovered a ‘disturbing', ‘fatalistic' attitude to heart disease among Scotland's most deprived communities.

Holyrood's public audit committee has tasked Scottish government with addressing the vast disparity in heart disease rates between rich and poor areas. Scotland has the worst heart disease record in Europe, largely because of just eight Scottish councils, all of which contain deeply deprived areas.

The MSPs said their ‘most disturbing' finding was that people in these areas simply expected to suffer health problems.

Convener Iain Gray said: ‘The powerful but deeply disturbing message was "people like us die of heart disease, and that's how it is".

‘We learned that many simply do not expect to enjoy good health and have an almost resigned acceptance that ill-health, including heart disease, is what life brings.'

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