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Mid-Staffs criminal investigation launched, paediatricians call time on child units and another health warning for the apple-shaped

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 12 April.

In all the newspapers this morning is the news that the Health and Safety Executive has launched a criminal investigation into the death of a woman at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust hospital.

The Guardian says Gillian Astbury was admitted to the hospital in 2007 with fractures to her arm and pelvis and died after slipping into a diabetic coma. The HSE confirmed their inspectors formally began an investigation on Thursday, telling the paper: ‘Our focus will be on establishing whether there is evidence of the employer (the trust) or individuals failing to comply with their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.’

Meanwhile the Independent reports that the Royal College of Paediatrics is calling for almost a quarter of NHS children’s units to be closed so that expertise can be concentrated in specialist centres.

The College says consultants are spread too thinly among the 218 existing units, with only one in 10 units having a consultant on duty between 5pm and 10pm on weekdays – a peak time for paediatric urgent care.

It says: ‘In many other industries, it would be an anomaly that the most senior, experienced and skilled professionals were absent during the busiest periods. Regrettably, this appears to be common practice in paediatrics.’

Finally, another warning to watch our waistlines, especially for those of us with a tendency to put weight on around the middle. Apparently being ‘apple shaped’ is not only a cardiovascular risk, it’s also bad for your kidneys, the BBC reports.

A study in the Netherlands, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that even among otherwise healthy people, having a higher waist-to-hip ratio was linked to lower kidney function, reduced kidney blood flow and higher blood pressure in the kidneys.

A spokesperson for Kidney Research UK said: ‘This is further evidence that there is a link between obesity and the growing problem of kidney disease, and that more needs to be done to make people aware of the importance of protecting kidney function.’

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