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Daily Digest 24 September 2009

By Mia Kukathasan

Today's round-up of the GP and other health stories making the headlines - including assisted suicide guidance, research into Parkinson's disease... and dentists in thongs.

After nearly 50 years of it being a criminal offence, those who assist suicide on compassionate grounds now have guidelines on whether they risk prosecution. This is the result of the Crown Prosecution Service's policy on assisted suicide - though currently under consultation, the interim policy now in place may be a first step in decriminalising assisted suicide. The Guardian, Independent, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail all applaud these steps.

The Sun, meanwhile, claims that guidelines mean parents assisting the suicide of their children could actually face tougher sentencing. And the Times worries that with such guidance, a key safeguard has been undermined.

Dentists in thongs and nipple tweaking doctors are some of the weirder inappropriate doctor-patient interactions that the Times reveals in its report: 'Don't trust me - I'm a doctor.' Apparently, 'according to some doctors and therapists, patient ignorance is often the cause for things going horribly wrong in the consulting room'. The article helpfully goes on to offer a list of ways to officially complain.

'Pupils told: Sex every day keeps the GP away' is how the Times introduces a new approach to teenage sexual health education being piloted by NHS Sheffield, which has begun distributing a document called Pleasure, targeted at teenagers, their parents and teachers. As the Telegraph puts it: 'NHS tells school children of their 'right' to 'an orgasm a day'.'

A drug shown to slow down Parkinson's disease, Rasagiline (brand name Azilet) is already prescribed for later stages of the disease. But the Independent reports research suggesting a much earlier prescription could reduce progression.

Rural GP practices could be scaled back or even closed, due to the cut in the fee they get for dispensing medicines, the Telegraph reports.

Most mental health in-patients feel unsafe, with many denied counselling and not told of potential drug side-effects, according to the first-ever official survey of NHS mental health inpatients - reported in the Guardian.

The Mirror claims that the excitement of the Olympics and the battle against obesity are two factors spurring a recent surge in gym membership and fitness clubs.

More Vitamin D is what pregnant women need to prevent their babies developing rickets and schizophreniam according to the Sun. Perhaps surprisingly, they don't actually suggest more sun.

And finally... your average pizza could provide three quarters of an adult daily calorific intake in just one sitting. A number of newspapers reported the results of this Which? survey. The Guardian however ignores this rather glum angle, focusing instead on the fact that according to the ratings, some of the lower fat options scored highest in the taste tests.

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

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