Bristol's deaf 'targeted' by cuts, midwife shortage risks lives and laughter still the best medicine for pain
Our round-up of the health headlines on Thursday 15 September.
Professor Paul Corrigan, the former health advisor to Tony Blair, has written a report arguing that the Government needs to do more to help failing NHS hospitals, The Telegraph reports.
Professor Corrigan says that up to 40 NHS hospital trusts do not have enough money to succeed, and ministers are avoiding difficult discussions about the future of hospitals.
The report warns taxpayers will face a £5billion pay-out to save the NHS unless radical action is taken - such as hospitals becoming ‘factories' where patients are treated in large numbers in a streamlined process at 'solution shops'. Whatever that means.
The Guardian reports that Bristol's deaf community feels targeted by the cuts. It was announced last week that the Bristol Deaf Centre will lose £240,000 worth of funding from Bristol City Council. As a result the Centre could close down and the staff made redundant.
According to the same paper cases of breast and cervical cancer are on the rise in poorer nations. An analysis from the Seattle-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has been published ahead of Monday's UN health summit on non-communicable diseases in New York.
As deaths in childbirth decrease, breast and cervical cancer mortality rates are predicted to rise. Wealthier countries have the benefit of early cancer screenings, drug therapies and vaccines, so the burden of breast and cervical cancer is shifting to low-income countries in Africa and Asia, the review says.
In Wales, health minister Lesley Griffiths denies the Welsh Government is allowing more private treatment within the NHS, reports BBC News.
Ms Griffiths told BBC Wales that she ‘rejects' the idea of privatisation of NHS services and the private sector should only be considered as a short term option and the ‘last resort'.
Prof Marcus Longley, director of the Welsh Institute of Health and Social Care at Glamorgan University, said that it is always likely that health boards would turn to the private sector to meet tough targets.
BBC News also reports that midwife shortages are risking lives. The Royal College of Midwives has warned a 22% rise in births over 20 years has led to shortfalls across England, and 4,700 more midwifes are needed across England.
Cathy Warwick, the RCM general secretary, said: ‘Once you get to really critical shortfalls, maternity services won't be safe.'
The World Health Organisation plans to tackle the drug-resistant tuberculosis in European countries, and has described the problem as ‘alarming', BBC News reports. The WHO's plan aims to increase diagnosis and access to treatment. Experts believe it has the potential to save several billion pounds and 120,000 lives by 2015.
Finally the Daily Mail reports that scientific researchers from the University of Oxford have found that laughter can combat pain. However, only genuine laughter works.
Professor Robin Dunbar recorded the amount of laughter produced when his subjects watched comedy. Their ‘laughter levels' were compared with those who watched factual clips or drama, and their pain tolerance assessed by tests measuring how long they could stand with their backs against a wall and their knees bent.
The results revealed that those who watched comedy in a group laughed the most and had heightened pain tolerance. The researchers said: ‘Laughing is physically very exhausting, and anything that taxes the body physically triggers endorphins as a natural response as part of the pain control mechanism.'