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UK has best palliative care, family visits cut depression risk and ‘perfume should be banned from hospitals’

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

The UK has come top out in a study of 80 countries’ end-of-life care, the Guardian among others has reported.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, which carried out the study, pointed to the integration of palliative care into the NHS, a strong hospice movement and specialised staff.

Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Belgium made up the rest of the top five.

The Daily Mail reports today that elderly patients who are in regular contact with friends and family are around half as likely to develop depression than those who aren’t.

Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at 11,000 adults aged 50 or over, grouping them in terms of how often they were contacted by friends or family.

Those who were visited three times a week had a 6.5% chance of developing depression, compared to an 11.5% risk in those who saw friends and family just once every few months, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports.

Meanwhile, an editorial in the Canadian Journal of Medicine calls for perfume and aftershave to be banned from hospitals.

The Telegraph reports that the editorial, written by Dr Ken Flegel and Dr James Martin, said: ’There are many practices that are acceptable outside hospitals - but not inside. One of these is the application of artificial scents to our bodies.

It states that there is emerging evidence that asthma ’in some cases is primarily aggravated by artificial scents’.

They conclude: ’As patients, family members and emergency physicians will attest, the attacks can be quite sudden and serious. There is little justification for continuing to tolerate artificial scents in our hospitals.’

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