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Daily Digest - 14 September

By Steve Nowottny

Today's round-up of the GP and other health stories making the headlines.

The Government's decision to stop GPs charging for 084 numbers receives the thumbs up from Fleet Street today. ‘Whitehall pulls the plug on GPs' costly 0845 phone lines', reports the Daily Mail, while the Daily Mirror goes with: ‘NHS chiefs to ban 084 rip-off calls' and the Times: 'NHS scraps premium rate phone charges'.

The Daily Mirror and the Guardian also report that ‘Doctors and nurses were yesterday ordered to smile more at patients', based on a pilot scheme from NHS North West that could see hospitals get a 4% rise to their budgets based on patient experience surveys.

Widespread coverage today of a study commissioned by the Department of Health which suggests that there has been a sharp reduction in the number of hospital admissions for heart attacks in England in the year after the ban on public smoking came into force in July 2007. The Daily Mail , Times and Guardian all have the story.

The Telegraph reports on a new breast enhancement operation that gives women ‘a double boost' by using excess fat from their waist - the operation could be offered in the UK ‘within months', the paper says. It's ‘Double joy', according to the Times – ‘Two-in-one op joy' according to the Daily Mail.

The Independent splashes on a call from government-appointed drug experts for "‘a nationwide network of "shooting galleries" to provide injectable heroin for hardened drug addicts across the country.' A trial programme prescribing heroin to long-term addicts has shown ‘major benefits', the paper reports, and an expert group set up by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has concluded the approach should be adopted nationwide.

The Mail claims that British scientests have identified a ‘master gene that can kill cancer' – the gene E4bp4 can cause ‘blank' stem cells to turn into ‘natural killer cells', researchers at Imperial College London claim.

The Times opens with a leader entitled "National Health Service", which examines how the NHS has failed in its fundamental purpose as extolled by its creator Aneurin Bevan as 'extending to the working people of Britain, without supplementary payment, good health'.

The Times also carries a damning report on how 'Families 'kept in the dark' as doctors make life-or-death decisions', about how a national audit has found that 'one in four families are not informed when doctors decide that a patient in hospital is dying under a widely used NHS scheme for palliative care'.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day…

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