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Lansley ‘put London patients at risk’ and the perils of life in the limelight

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 18 April.

The former boss of NHS London has claimed that ex-health secretary Andrew Lansley put patients in the capital at risk when he scrapped plans to reorganise services, according to the Guardian.

The paper reports that in a review of healthcare in London published by Imperial College London, Dame Ruth Carnall calls Lansley to task for halting the review of services, which aimed to shut A&E departments and maternity units and shift care out of hospitals.

Dame Carnall says this slowed down the reforms – which caused controversy among GPs because of the Lord Darzi plan to bring in ‘polyclinics’ across the city – and claims this directly impacted on patients because of insufficient consultant cover in hospitals and a lack of primary care and diagnostic services.

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed saying: ‘Ministers refused to listen to doctors and abandoned life-saving reforms to NHS services. The government should be ashamed it damaged patient care in London for its own political ends.’

But the Department of Health defended Lansley’s decision to change course because the plans had not involved GPs, patients and local authorities: ‘Because of the changes we have made, doctors and nurses now have the freedom and power to provide the local health services their patients really need – making the decisions which were previously taken by managers.’

Still, worse than being in hospital is living life as a celebrity, it seems. The BBC reports on a study of obituaries showing that performers and sports stars pay a price for fame – living several years shorter than other people.

The study by Australian researchers, published in QTM: An International Journal of Medicine, found performers including actors, singers and musicians and those with a career in sport died the youngest of anyone, at an average age of 77 years.  Writers composers and artists died at 79, while academics survived to 82 and those in business or politics made it to the ripe old age of 83.

Researcher Professor Richard Epstein said: ‘A one-off retrospective analysis like this can’t prove anything, but it raises some interesting questions.

‘First, if it is true that successful performers and sports players tend to enjoy shorter lives, does this imply that fame at younger ages predisposes to poor health behaviours in later life after success has faded? Or that psychological and family pressures favouring unusually high public achievement lead to self-destructive tendencies throughout life? Or that risk-taking personality traits maximise one’s chances of success, with the use of cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs improving one’s performance output in the short term?’

Whatever the reason, the findings should be considered as a ‘health warning to young people aspiring to become stars’, he said.

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