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The looming antibiotics apocalypse, GPs on the health bill, outsourced child health services a sign of things to come?

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Friday 16 March.

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Friday 16 March

The Guardian has a 12-page special report on whether the NHS can survive health secretary Andrew Lansley's reforms, including comment from 100 health workers. Virtually every profession working in the NHS is represented, from canteen chefs to neurosurgeons, and of course GPs have their say too.

Dr Joana Monjardino, a GP in Shoreham-by-Sea, said that ‘even Thatcher would not have dreamed of doing what this lot are doing'. She added: ‘They are piling more on us, taking time away from direct patient contact.'

The mammoth compendium of opinion is topped off by an interview with Dr Johnny Marshall, a GP in Buckinghamshire and, according to the Guardian, ‘that rarest of creatures, a GP who is a passionate advocate for the Government's NHS reforms.'

On its front page this morning the Independent is predicting a return to the dark ages in terms of healthcare. Routine operations will become ‘impossible' and ‘a scratched knee could be fatal'; patients will ‘gamble with their lives' just by entering a hospital.

No, the NHS risk register hasn't been published yet, this nightmare vision comes after a warning from the World Health Organisation over a ‘global crisis in antibiotics'. The microbes responsible for common infections are rapidly evolving resistance to existing antibiotics.

At a meeting of infectious disease experts in Copenhagen, the director general of WHO Dr Margaret Chan warned: ‘A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill.'

Here in the UK the Government pledged £500,000 last month for research into the threat but this may not be enough. Dr Chan continued at the conference: ‘In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry. The cupboard is nearly bare.'

Finally, Serco or Virgin Care could be running child health services in Devon after the local NHS authority put the contract out to tender, according to the Telegraph. It's thought to be the first time children's services have been put out to tender to such an extent in England and health bill critics fear it could be a harbinger of the future.

Along with child health care, other services to be sold off include palliative care, therapy and respite for disabled children, treatment for those who are mentally ill and child protection. The tender is expected to be awarded to ‘the most economically advantageous' bid.

President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Care Professor Terence Stephenson said: ‘It is essential that any provider has proven expertise in managing not only clinical services but also key areas such as safeguarding and, on the face of it, it does not appear that all of the shortlisted bidders have experience in managing such services.'

A spokesperson for Andrew Lansley said: ‘We support patient choices and whoever is best getting the contracts. We reject the idea that because a private company might get it, it is privatisation.'

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