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'Death test' developed, Staffordshire decision due and the benefits of nurses with degrees

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Wednesday 26 February

The Daily Mail reports on a new ‘death test’ which scientists say can predict whether a person will die in the next five years.

The test uses a sample of blood to identify those at high risk of being killed by diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer.

The researchers began by testing blood samples from more than 17,000 generally healthy people for more than 100 different chemicals. They then tracked the volunteers for several years and compared the blood samples of those who died with those who survived.

This revealed four chemical signals, or biomarkers, that forecast a high risk of dying from any disease within five years.

Meanwhile the BBC leads on the news that health secretary Jeremy Hunt will today announce whether the Government intends to scrap scandal hit Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and move services to other hospitals.

Under the proposals, control of Stafford Hospital would go to the neighbouring University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust (UHNS) while Cannock Hospital would be run by the Royal Wolverhampton Trust.

Services, including maternity, paediatric and critical care units at Stafford, would be downgraded.

The trust was criticised last year by a public inquiry for the ‘suffering of hundreds of people’ under its care. It has been in administration since April.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph reports on findings that patients are more likely to die if treated by nurses without degrees.

A study has shown that every 10% increase in the proportion of nurses holding a degree at a hospital was associated with 7% lower surgical death rates.

Researchers followed up more than 420,000 patients from 300 hospitals across Europe and discovered that staff training was crucial to post-op survival.

The study also found that every extra patient added to a nurse’s workload also increased the risk of death by 7%.

Fewer than one in three NHS nurses currently hold a degree and in some hospitals 90% of nursing staff are without the qualification.

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