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Criminal investigation into Mid-staffs death, diet staves off diabetes and the anaesthetic that could treat depression

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 30 August.

The Guardian reports that Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust will be prosecuted over the death of a patient from diabetic ketoacidosis. An inquest into the death of Gillian Astbury in 2007 found she died because of the trust’s gross failure to provide basic care.

The Health and Safety executive – criticised by the Francis report for failing to decide whether to prosecute the trust over the case – has now concluded it has enough evidence to bring criminal proceedings.

The move marks ‘an unprecedented change in criminal accountability in the health service’, the paper says.

Elsewhere the Daily Express gives its front page over to a diet that can ‘slash the risk of diabetes by a more than a quarter’.

The diet involves eating a few portions of certain fruits a week – blueberries being the most protective, followed by grapes or raisins, prunes and then apples and pears. A study found people who ate three standard servings – around 80g – of blueberries a week had a 26% lower chance of developing diabetes than others without blueberries in their diet. On the other hand, drinking fruit juice is not helpful – and replacing three standard servings week of juice with whole fruits cuts the risk of diabetes by 33%.

Professor Anthony Barnett, from Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said: ‘It is interesting that “protection” against type 2 diabetes is associated with whole fruit consumption but such protection is lost with fruit juices.’

Finally, the Daily Mail reports on a study that showed a dose of the anaesthetic ketamine can relieve depression symptoms in as little as 24 hours – compared with four to six weeks for most anti-depressants

Researchers found 64% of people with depression given a low dose of ketamine improved within 24 hours, compared with only 28% given midazolam.

Many of the patients given ketamine continued to benefit for up to seven days and a small group remained depression-free for four weeks.

Lead researcher, Dr Sanjay Mathew from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said: ‘Through this study, we’ve now confirmed in an optimised trial design that ketamine does have robust and rapid antidepressant effects.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • Poor poor NHS - funding is cut to unbearable levels - so many trusts fail and cannot provide proper care. They are then sued. The poor staff who have worked at least twice as hard as they should will be censured, too. I have worked in the NHS for almost 40 years and 95% of staff work more hours and cover more people than is safe. But they bear the brunt of criticism. the folks who chop the funding join in pointing fingers at poor care. What madness! What absurdity! When will the different unions such as RCN and BMA bring in safe staff : patient ratios, because ultimately they should be responsible for the safety of their members. Why on earth do they not ? Pilots and lorry drivers do it. Let us do it.

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