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'Scaremongering' care.data critics, call for 'Welsh Mid-Staffs' inquiry and a genetic test for prostate cancer a step closer

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Friday 21 February.

A group of medical research organisations have accused care.data critics of ‘peddling scaremongering myths’, the BBC reports this morning.

Conservative MP George Freeman has founded the group, called Patients4Data and representing over 70 charities charities and drug companies.

The move comes as NHS England has been forced into halting care.data to give more time to properly inform patients about the scheme, after a row erupted over privacy and potential data breaches.

Mr Freeman said: ‘There are those who oppose not just the mechanism of data handling but the principle of patient empowerment and greater accountability.

‘We cannot let opponents peddling scaremongering myths stop patients benefiting from this quiet revolution of modern medicine. There are issues to be addressed. But data is a force for good, not a Big Brother-style conspiracy.’

Elsewhere, The Times leads with the call for a ‘Mid-Staffs’ style inquiry into hospital care in Wales.

A freedom of information request revealed Labour MP Ann Clwyd - whose husband died following poor care at a Cardiff hospital - had received email correspondence from NHS England chief Sir Bruce Keogh saying long waiting times for tests were ‘worrying’ and ‘warrant investigating’.

But according to the BBC, Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford has hit back, saying the calls are a ‘trap’ to divert interest away from problems in England.

He said: ‘All they are interested in doing is trying to divert attention from the utter shambles that is the English NHS by trying to pretend that things in Wales are worse. They are not and we will not fall into that kind of nonsensical trap.’

Finally, researchers say they have found genetic markers for prostate cancer risk in men that could lead to a blood test to screen and identify those at highest risk of developing the disease.

Professor Ros Eeles, from London’s Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, told The Independent: ‘Our study shows the potential benefit of putting prostate cancer on a par with cancers such as breast cancer when it comes to genetic testing.

‘Although ours was a small, first-stage study, we proved that testing for known cancer mutations can pick out men who are destined to have a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.’

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