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Government’s post-Francis pledges, how bedtime aspirin could ward off more heart attacks and why our children are getting slower

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 20 November.

Much of the health news this morning focuses on the Government’s response to the Francis inquiry. The Guardian highlights plans to hit hospital trusts with financial penalties if they cover up mistakes causing injury, and to give patients a named consultant nurse during their stay in hospital, while the Telegraph says patients will get a named nurse or doctor, so they know ‘where the buck stops’.

However, the Mirror says a shortage of nurses could scupper the Government’s plans to raise standards, in particular to monitor nursing numbers on wards, as shadow health secretary Andy Burnham claimed hospital trusts plan to cut 6,900 more nurses by 2016 and the Royal College of Nursing warned some wards are already being manned by just one nurse at night.

Elsewhere, the BBC reports on research showing today’s children cannot run as fast at their parents could when they were young. The study – presented at the American Heart Association annual conference – showed people’s ‘cardiovascular endurance’ has dwindled by around 5% each decade over the past 50 years. On average, children today run a mile 90 seconds slower than their counterparts did 30 years ago.

The researchers linked their findings to the rise in obesity. Lead researcher Dr Grant Tomkinson of the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences said: ‘About 30% to 60% of the declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in fat mass.’

Finally, the Telegraph reports taking aspirin at bedtime could ward off morning heart attacks. A study of 290 patients (also presented at the American Heart Association conference) showed that – despite aspirin’s relatively long half-life – taking a 100 mg aspirin tablet at night instead of the morning resulted in lower platelet activity, apparently heading off the body’s normal surge in platelet ‘stickiness’ in the morning hours, when many heart attacks occur.

However, the paper reminds readers this comes after experts warned of the high risk of internal bleeding with daily aspirin.

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