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Ambulance postcode lottery, fears of a suicide 'generation' and how Twitter spots postnatal depression

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 19 February.

A former ambulance service boss has hit out at the 2,500 lives lost each year due to a ‘postcode lottery’ in emergency responses to heart attack calls, the BBC reports this morning.

Research demonstrates there is a significant variation in the survival rates across trusts, with around one in six resuscitations by South Central ambulance service being successful, compared to just over one in 20 in the North East. Roger Thayne, former chief executive of Staffordshire ambulance service said: ‘I estimate that we should be saving twice as many lives a year, or around 2,500 people.’

A surge in suicide rates amongst middle aged men has sparked concern amongst charities and psychologists as ONS figures reveal a 40% increase in men aged 45 to 59 years since 2002, reports the Telegraph.

Experts have cited the combinations declining heavy industry throughout the 1980s and 90s and major social change in the workplace and family life as factors that put the group at particular risk.

Professor Rory O’Connor who leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory at Glasgow University, told the paper: ‘Society has moved on but middle aged men are not as equipped as they should be with dealing with changes in their role in society.’

Finally, the Daily Mail reports on scientists’ claim that Twitter trends can help pick up the signs of post-natal depression.

Microsoft scientists say they have identified changes in use of the site that suggest a woman is at risk of mood changes after her baby is born.

Researcher Dr Eric Horvitz told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference the research could be used to create an early-warning system that a pregnant women could install on her mobile phone.

But on a day when the national headlines are still filled with news of NHS England’s backtrack on care.data, the paper is quick to point out the approach is likely to raise ‘concerns about privacy, particularly when dealing with the sensitive area of public health’.


 

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