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Poor dementia care in hospitals, gene therapy breakthrough for children and the axe falls on the 'birthplace of the NHS'

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

Elderly people with dementia are receiving poor care in hospital, with ‘alarmingly low’ numbers having their mental state properly assessed, the Guardian reports this morning.

According to a national audit commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, many patients become acutely confused when they are admitted to hospital, but fewer than half of the 7,987 patients included in the audit were assessed.

The report also found 41% of hospitals do not provide training in dementia care for new staff, while 40% do not train support staff and 11% provide no training to nurses.

Norman Lamb MP, the care and support minister, said: ‘Whilst there are some excellent examples of dementia care in hospitals, this report highlights too many areas where care for patients has failed.’

Elsewhere the Daily Mirror reports that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has provoked fury by announcing the closure of Trafford General A&E without informing the local MP first. The hospital – regarded as the ‘birthplace of the NHS’ because the health service’s first patient was treated there on 5 July,1948 – is having its A&E downgraded to an urgent care centre and will no longer provide emergency surgery or have an intensive care unit under Government-backed plans to reconfigure services.

Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, the area Trafford General serves, was not informed the closure had been given the go-ahead before Mr Hunt announced it.

According to the Mirror, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham turned to Mr Hunt in the Commons and said: ‘It says a lot about you – your advisers could find time to get texts sent to the Murdochs but you couldn’t find time to give a local MP advance notice of a statement about the closure of her A&E department.’

‘And not just any A&E – 65 years and six days after Nye Bevan opened the NHS at Trafford Hospital.’

Meanwhile the BBC reports on a major breakthrough in the treatment of a devastating disease in children through the use of gene therapy. Three children born with metachromatic leukodystrophy – which reverses brain development in infancy – received the treatment before their brain function started to decline. They are all now well and living a normal life and going to school at an age when their siblings with the disease were unable to talk.

Professor Bobby Gaspar from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London said: ‘This is really exciting. Metachromatic leukodystrophy is a very significant neural degeneration which cannot be cured in any other way and now the study shows they can live relatively normal lives.

‘It raises the prospect that other diseases can be treated in the same way.’

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

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