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Hospital bosses to face larger fines, the return of scurvy to Britain's microwave-meal families and have scientists found a 'functional' cure for AIDS?

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 4 July.

A ‘loophole’ which meant hospital bosses were not being prosecuted for scandals like Winterbourne View and Mid Staffs is to be closed today by health and care minister Norman Lamb.

The Independent reports that since the CQC was set up in 2009 there have been no prosecutions for care failures and organisations that failed to meet national care standards were given fines of just £4,000.

The Department of Health is now considering maximum fines of £50,000.

Mr Lamb said: ‘Scandals like Winterbourne View and Mid Staffs have damaged confidence in our health and care system. Part of our commitment to rebuilding that trust comes from making sure that people at all levels are held to account for failings when they occur.’

‘Wartime diseases’ are returning to Britain because of the terrible diets of some modern-day children, The Telegraph reports. Some have diets worse than those of wartime children fed under the strict rationing system in place 70 years ago.

Now dietitians warn that cases of scurvy and rickets have been on the rise in parts of the UK, blaming parents who rely on takeaways and microwave meals to feed their families.

Sioned Quirke, a dietitian in Rhonda Valley in South Wales where scurvy has returned, said: ‘The difference between now and then is that this is out of choice. People say that fruit and vegetables are not affordable when in fact they are. Rickets and scurvy are coming back. When I was training 10 years ago we were told about these as past conditions.’

To finish off with some good news we return to The Independent, which reports that two HIV-infected men in Boston who were treated with bone marrow transplants now show no detectable signs of the virus.

Both men have been able to come off anti-viral drugs for weeks and a range of highly sensitive tests have failed to detect any return of the virus.

Although scientists said it is still to early to say whether the patients have truly been cured of HIV, as the virus may return, they said the findings point to a possible ‘functional’ cure for AIDS.

‘So far to date, we cannot detect virus in peripheral blood, we cannot detect virus integrated into the cells of the patients,’ said Dr Timothy Henrich of the Brigham and Women’s Cancer Centre in Boston.

But he added: ‘I want to stress that longer term follow-up is going to be needed to understand the full impact of stem-cell [bone marrow] transplantation….It is possible that the virus could come back in a few months from now, or it’s possible that it could take one or two years for the virus to return to these patients.’

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

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