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NHS 'scaring patients' over electronic records, premature babies' heightened sensitivity and phantom ministers stalking DH corridors

Our roundup of health news headlines on Monday 10 May

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of health news headlines on Monday 10 May

The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail this morning cover the charge from privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch that Connecting for Health may be ‘scaring' patients into agreeing to have a Summary Care Record.

The lobby group accused Connecting for Health of overstating the risk to patients if they opt out of the system, after a Department of Health spokesman apparently contradicted dire warnings placed on the Connecting for Health website.

On the website, patients are warned that if they opt out of the Summary Care Record they could suffer ‘adverse consequences' including a ‘delay or missed opportunity for correct treatment', claiming that ‘the NHS has significant problems now with lost records and test results and treatment and prescribing errors'.

But a DH spokesperson told the Daily Mail that there was no major problem under the current system – ‘prompting speculation that the Government was making the claim to frighten patients into joining the database.'

It's a problem that, believe it or not, is still officially in the in-tray of health minister Mike O'Brien – even though the former Labour MP lost his seat last Thursday.

At least 19 'phantom ministers' – including Mike O'Brien, Phil Hope, Gillian Merron and Ann Keen at the Department of Health - are still officially at work on behalf of the Government, despite being voted out, as Conservative and Liberal Democrat talks about whether they can form a Government together continue.

According to the papers the former MPs ‘are still entitled to ministerial cars and a civil service staff, should they find any work to do in the next few days'.

And a study covered in the Daily Mail and elsewhere suggests that premature babies are more sensitive to pain than those born after a full-term pregnancy.

Researchers at University College Hospital, London, who studied 15 babies, found that the heightened sensitivity could last into childhood and perhaps for a person's whole life.

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

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