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Lansley off NHS hook, independent abortion counselling pushed and a ‘devastating divide’ in cancer drug access

Our round-up of the health headlines on Tuesday 30 August.

The legislation in health bill will allow Andrew Lansley to ‘wash his hands' of the NHS, according to an independent legal team.

The Guardian reports the advice that campaign group 38 degrees say the ‘hands off' clause, which famously gives power to commissioning groups, also takes away the health secretary's duty to provide a national health service and, according to the group, justifies the widespread public concern about the government's health reforms.

Then Independent says Conservative MP Nadine Dorries continues to push a ‘controversial' amendment to the health bill, changing the law surrounding abortion which would take away the responsibility that abortion charities and doctors have to counsel women who seek to terminate a pregnancy. Instead specially trained professionals would offer counseling.

She believes counsellors need to be independent from abortion charities because the charities have a financial conflict of interest since they are paid for the procedures they carry out, and said the move could cut termination rates: ‘We don't think it is right that the people who are giving the advice for the product procedure process should be the same people who are carrying out that process.'

An investigation by the Rarer Cancers Foundation is reported in The Daily Mail today, which finds‘English patients THREE times more likely to get cancer drugs than those in Wales and Scotland'.

The Government's cancer drugs fund, worth £200 million a year, was set up to allow GPs to give patients in England drugs which are approved but not yet available for widespread use on NHS.

But and analysis of data from health trusts in England, Scotland and Wales revealed a ‘devastating divide', suggesting that patients in England ‘are three times more likely to access key cancer drugs as those in Scotland, and five times as likely as those in Wales'.

The Telegraph reports the shocking news that at least 83 people died in US experiments involving sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala, during the 1940s.

An investigation concluded that 5,500 underwent testing with 1,300 being exposed to venereal diseases by contact or inoculations. US doctor John Cutler infected 1,500  people including mentally ill patients to see if penicillin could prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Guatemalan sex workers were also infected and allowed to have unprotected sex with prison inmates and soldiers. US president Barack Obama has personally apologised to the Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.

The Mirror reports news that poor quality sleep makes older men 80% more likely to develop high blood pressure. A three-year study by Harvard Medical School's Dr Susan Redline found men who spent less than 4% of their time asleep in a deep sleep had more heart ­problems than other people.

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