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Green light for NHS 'TripAdvisor' site, U-turn on plain cigarette packs and why viagra flops

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 28 November

First up this morning is news from the Guardian NHS trusts are to get a national patient feedback site system on the TripAdvisor travel website.

The Care Connect website, trialled in London and the north-east over three months, is to be rolled out nationally next year. The site allows patients to leave reviews or complaints that are then logged by case handlers who contact the trust in question.

NHS chief of patient information, Tim Kelsey, told the Guardian it was not about ‘naming and shaming’ but enabling NHS trusts to be more responsive to complaints.

He said: ‘It’s what any consumer of health services would expect.’

But privacy campaigners have warned complaints received by Facebook or Twitter - which can be used to post reviews, as well as online or by phone - cannot be moderated, risking NHS staff being libelled and threatening patient confidentiality.

‘You cannot screen this stuff out on Twitter or even on Facebook which can see people repost stuff,’ said Phil Booth of privacy campaigners medConfidential. ‘I am not sure they have thought this through.’

Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that the Government is set to make a U-turn on its decision not to enforce plain packaging on cigarettes.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt had previously said there would be no decision on whether to introduce plain packaging until experience in Australia - where the policy has recently been introduced - had been evaluated.

But in a surprise move, the coalition has decided to allow ministers to introduce the policy, albeit subject to evidence review, the paper says.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, welcomed the move.

She told the paper: ‘When the government said it wasn’t ready to make a decision on standardised packaging of cigarettes the tobacco industry thought it had killed it stone dead. The government is to be congratulated for listening to parliamentarians from across the political spectrum in both the Commons and the Lords, and making the right decision, ignoring the industry and going ahead.’

Finally, the Daily Mail has news that could put a dampener on viagra sales. Apparently, such drugs for treating erectile dysfunction do little to improve men’s relationships.

A study showed that although the drugs boost satisfaction and self-esteem, they did not help improve men’s overall satisfaction with life and relationships.

Dr Arun Ghosh, a GP specialising in sexual health at the Spire Liverpool Hospital, said: ‘One of the main roles of any treatment is to give men a psychological boost. It’s vitally important to use treatment alongside some kind of sexual counselling or therapy, even if the cause is due to something physical such as diabetes.’

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