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Boozy nights and takeaways, midwife shortages and a blood test for arthritis

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 24 April.

Most of this morning’s papers report on the calorific effects of binge drinking - and of chips and kebabs on the way home from the pub.

According to the Daily Telegraph, research commissioned by Slimming World has identified a ‘tipping point’ in alcohol consumption at which a drinker’s resolve goes out the window leading to binge eating that can add thousands of calories to their diet. After 10.5 units for men and eight units for women, people tended to make unhealthy choices, consuming an extra 4,305 calories that night in food and drink and another 2,000 calories the next morning, research showed.

The Daily Mail says: ‘Feasting on fatty takeaways after the pubs and clubs have shut and combating a hangover with a full English breakfast can see men alone put away an extra 5,000 calories. Even if we otherwise stick to a healthy regime, a regular once-a-week night out could make us pile on two stone over a year.’

The Guardian reports that four out of five hospitals have too few midwives, despite the ongoing baby boom. Midwife shortages are so acute in some parts of England that hospitals have almost one in five posts in their maternity units unfilled, according to responses to freedom of information requests.

The Guardian quotes a Freedom of Information Act investigation by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as revealing that in January, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust had a vacancy rate of 17.8%, the highest in England, which means it is 32 midwives below the 208 it needs.

Ten other hospital trusts, including six in London - where much of the maternity care provided has been judged inadequate in surveys and reports - also had consistently high vacancy rates between 2011 and the start of this year, the paper says.

The Telgraph’s take is that NHS chiefs are ignoring the shortage, ‘burying their heads in the sand’ because they do not have enough resources to fill the gaps.

The Express predicts a blood test which can reveal who will develop arthritis and how severely it will strike could be available within five years.

The test could allow preventative measures could be taken before the disease has caused irreparable joint damage and could save the NHS millions by lowering the demand for costly joint replacements, the paper says.

A Bristol University team have been awarded almost £300,000 by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK to find out if biomarkers found in the blood of patients can be used not only to diagnose the condition but also to inform doctors which patients are likely to get worse over time, the Express says.

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