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Doctors go to the polls, nurses 'stretched to breaking point' and potentially dangerous alternative therapy

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 14 May

Today's BMA ballot for industrial action on pensions has hit the national news. By 2014, the Telegraph reports, many doctors will suffer deductions of 14.5% from their pay for their pensions, compared to 7.35% for senior civil servants on similar salaries, with doctors at the start of their careers hardest hit.

The Guardian is conducting a poll asking readers whether, for the first time since 1975, doctors should take industrial action. At the time of writing, Guardian readers were coming out strongly in favour of a strike.

 

Meanwhile nurses are ‘stretched to breaking point'.  A study by the Royal College of Nurses suggests that 61,000 NHS jobs are at risk. The Guardian reports that, according to the study, almost nine out of 10 NHS community nurses have seen their caseload rise over the last year, while 68% said staffing levels had fallen where they worked.

Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, told the Today programme: ‘Yet again, and despite numerous warnings, NHS organisations are making short-sighted cuts across the UK.

'Nurses are being stretched too thin, and many are approaching breaking point. Inevitably, patient care is going to suffer.' 

 

A Diabetes UK report has revealed that less than half of diabetes sufferers are receiving basic minimum care, with only 6% receiving the regular checks recommended by NICE. This, the report argues, has resulted in a rise in diabetes-related complications – such as kidney failure and stroke – which take up 80% of NHS spending on the condition.

 

The UK's only professor of complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has warned that some alternative therapies could be unsafe and, in the case of chiropractic manipulation, could be ‘lethal'. 

Professor Ernst said that studies frequently fail to report adverse effect because ‘Alternative medicine researchers are often enthusiastic amateurs who think that research is for the purpose of promoting their treatment, rather than testing hypotheses.'

However, Peter Dixon, president of the General Chiropractic Council, has rebutted his claims, saying that the academic is ‘prone to sensationalising'.

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