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Consultants can opt out of NHS league tables, child obesity hospital admissions quadruple and oily fish no longer recommended for heart disease sufferers

A round up of the health headlines on Thursday 13 June.

The value of NHS league tables for surgeons has been cast into doubt as NHS England have conceded that consultants can legally opt out of handing over data that rates their individual performance.

The Data Protection Act protects surgeons from providing data such as how many people have died in their operating theatres, the Guardian reports.

About 4% of consultants across the country have opted out of providing performance data to the league tables due to be published by trusts this summer.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: ‘Around 96% of consultants across 10 specialities who have responded have opted in to the publication of data about their performance, which patients should have the right to see.

‘We urge all consultants to think very carefully about the effect on their patients and their colleagues if they choose to opt out on the basis of legislation designed to protect personal data.’

The BBC reports on a four-fold increase in the number of children and teenagers admitted to hospital for obesity-related conditions in the last decade, according to doctors.

Researchers at Imperial College London found that nearly 4,000 young people needed hospital treatment for problems complicated by being overweight in 2009, compared with just 872 in 2000.

Rates of surgery also went up, especially for teenage girls. The UK now has the highest rate of child obesity in Western Europe, they concluded.

Dr Saxena said the UK said the situation was serious: ‘We are seeing - through obesity - an increasing number of children with conditions that we previously diagnosed in adulthood… [and which] are now being diagnosed in childhood.’

‘What’s new about our paper is that we’re actually showing it’s not a ticking time-bomb - the time-bomb is exploding within the early life course, so in other words in the teenage years. That’s where it’s becoming manifest.’

Oily fish is off the menu for heart attack sufferers, according to the Telegraph. New NICE guidance no longer recommends two portions a day to prevent further heart attacks or strokes.

If the draft guidance comes into force they will no longer be told to eat two portions of oily fish such as mackerel, herring or sardines or to take omega-2 fatty acid capsules or food supplements to prevent further attacks.

However, the guidance does recommend sufferers to eat a Mediterranean diet- including more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, less meat and to replace butter and cheese with products based on plant oils.

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