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NHS bosses rule out GP charges, English children drink and smoke less and why the full moon keeps you up at night

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Friday 26 July.

NHS bosses and ministers have ruled out introducing any charges for GP appointments despite growing support from doctors, writes The Guardian.

The paper tops its health section with Department of Health and NHS England reactions to Pulse’s survey of GPs, which found that around half of GPs now back the idea because they think this is the only way to curb demand.

NHS England’s spokesperson said: ‘It is a key principle that NHS services should be free at the point of use, based on clinical need and not an individual’s ability to pay.’

While the DH added: ‘We have been absolutely clear that the NHS should be free at the point of use, with access based solely on need. That is why we are delivering a real-terms increase in NHS spending and protecting the NHS budget.’

Click here to read Pulse’s coverage

Over at The Telegraph, public health campaigns over the past decade were hailed for securing a drop in drinking and smoking amongst school children.

The number of children between 11 and 15 who have tried alcohol, drugs or cigarettes has fallen dramatically over the past 10 years, reports The Telegraph.

Among today’s school children, 43% had drunk alcohol last year compared to 61% in 2002, a survey run among school children by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed.

The survey also indicated a big drop in numbers who had tried smoking, from 42% to 23%. But there was a wide regional variety, with 30% of children in the North East having tried smoking compared to 22% in London and the East and West Midlands and over half of pupils in the North East drinking alcohol compared to under one-third in London.

However when it came to drugs, London pupils had the highest statistics at 20% compared to 15% in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West.

Meanwhile the BBC reports on a Home Office study that showed that the number of adults who say they use illegal drugs has fallen to its lowest level since records began.

Around 8% admitted taking an illegal drug during the last year, in the Crime Survey for England and Wales. It compares to 12.3% at a peak in 2003.

But the report warned against the recently common use of ‘laughing gas’ for recreational purposes, which 6% of young adults admitted having done last year. But despite this, and a rise in cocaine use, Home Office minister Jeremy Browne said the results overall were ‘really positive news’.

Did you have trouble getting to sleep last night? It could be the full moon.

Swiss scientists have found that we sleep less well when the moon is full, but they said it was not to do with either light or gravitational pull, The Daily Mail reports.

Instead they pointed to a ‘circalunar clock’ in humans’ bodies which would have protected them from animals out hunting by the full moon in our cave-dwelling days.

Dr Silvia Frey, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, said: ‘Our findings are the first that point to the existence of a circalunar clock in humans, but nobody has pinpointed it yet in the body.’

‘We expect it works at a molecular level and in the brain, possibly in the hypothalamus, the same part that regulates the circadian rhythm - the body’s own internal clock.’

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