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Patients fined for 'falsely' claiming free prescriptions, spike in suicide rates linked to austerity and skin damage continues in the shade

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

Patients with long-term conditions are facing fines for claiming free prescriptions without renewing their certification. According to a BBC investigation, type-1 diabetes patients and others have been given £100 fines since anti-fraud measures were implemented into the prescription scheme in September last year.

Chief executive of charity Diabetes UK, Barbara Young, told the BBC: ‘This is a policy designed to tackle fraud, but because of the poor way it has been implemented it has resulted in the unfair fining of people with a lifelong health condition.’

The Independent reports on a worrying rise in suicide among males, as these hit the highest levels since 2001. Overall numbers of suicides increased by 4% last year with 6,233 deaths of over-15s recorded in total across the UK, 78% of which were males. It noted that deprived areas, especially in the north east of England, were badly affected.

Dr Carl Walker, a Brighton University psychologist, told the paper: ‘There is a clear link between, not just unemployment, but poor employment and underemployment, and suicide and a range of mental health problems.’

Finally, the Guardian reports on new findings that UV rays continue to damage sunbathers’ skin for hours after getting out of the sun and into the shade.

The study from Yale University identified that the skin pigment melanin, thought to be integral in protecting skin from damage, actually played a small part in this after-exposure damage as it released absorbed energy into surrounding tissue.

Prof Douglas Brash, who led the research at Yale, said: ‘If you look inside adult skin, melanin does act as a shield. But it is doing both good and bad things.’

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