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Daily Digest 24 November 2009

Today's roundup - including the Government turning on private providers and the 23-year 'coma' patient who was awake all along.

By Ian Quinn

Today's roundup - including the Government turning on private providers and the 23-year 'coma' patient who was awake all along.

The Government is set to release new guidelines preventing PCTs from contracting out services to private firms and charities unless existing providers are proved to be failing, reports The Times.

It claims health secretary Andy Burnham is risking the wrath of revolting former ministers, including John Hutton and Alan Milburn, as well as the even more revolting CBI, over the latest move to limit private sector involvement.

For the BMA and many GPs could this, however, be the proof that the Government really is for turning over its previous bids to ramp up privatisation under Alan Johnston?

The Times also reports documents ‘uncovered' by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman - in fact they are published every month by the Government - which show Mr Burnham has met union representatives more than any other group since he took over in June.

Right wing Labour MPs angry at the sudden lurch back to the left would be better off shouting and screaming at Gordon Brown rather than silently stewing, according to other reports in today's papers, which feature research showing that having a blazing row with your boss is good for your heart ... as well as your soul.

Apparently researchers have discovered that ‘covert copers' -in other words the cowards who refuse to confront their tormentors and always get that promotion ahead of you - may get justice after all by giving themselves a heart attack, whereas the red mist coming down may reduce the risk of high blood pressure killing you off, even if it does for your job prospects.

The Daily Mail lets off more steam on its front page tackling the thorny issue of the cost of life saving drugs, with the headline 'Another Cancer Drug Too Dear for Britain'. Following NICE's decision to reject the use of liver drug Nexavaron on the NHS last week, this time it is the bowel cancer treatment, Avastin, which NICE has decided is too pricey, despite trials showing it can extend life by almost two years.

And finally, if you thought life in the credit crunch was a living nightmare, spare a thought for Rom Houben, a Belgian patient who today's papers report spent 23 years in a 'coma' only for a doctor reviewing cases to discover he had been awake and aware all along, suffering from 'locked in sydrome' - a bit like the The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but a much, much longer book.

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

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