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Worrying rise in alcohol deaths in women, cancer survivors ‘suffering in silence’ and the soaring cost of medical negligence claims

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 19 July.

There will be more irritation for health ministers this morning after the Government was accused of ducking out of minimum alcohol pricing, as researchers link the low cost of alcohol to a worrying increase in alcohol-related deaths among young women.

The team looked at drink-related deaths in three cities – Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool – over the past two decades and report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that deaths due to alcohol among women aged 29 to 34 are continuing to rise, whereas in men the trend has reversed since the early 2000s.

Lead researcher Dr Deborah Shipton, from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, told the Telegraph: ‘I think this has been driven by the increase in availability of alcohol. It has become a lot cheaper and as this has happened, it has become more acceptable for women to drink to excessive levels culturally.’

‘Drinks are marketed much more at women now and drinking venues have also been marketed more at women.’

Elsewhere the BBC reports that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are suffering from poor health or disability after receiving cancer treatment. Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 350,000 people are living with sexual difficulties, 240,000 with mental health problems and 150,000 with urinary problems such as incontinence, while 90,000 are experiencing problems such as diarrhoea and bleeding, as a result of the harmful effects of cancer therapy.

The charity says too many patients suffer in silence and is calling for more continuing support for patients after their treatment.

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan, said the NHS had underestimated the severity of the issue.

He said: ‘We are urging them to ensure that all cancer patients receive a ‘cancer recovery package’ at the end of their treatment offering ongoing support.’

Finally theDaily Mail highlights the rise in medical litigation in the UK, with the NHS facing soaring costs for medical negligence claims. According to figures taken from the NHS Litigation Authority, the number of claims went up by 11% last year to 10,129, with some individual payouts of around £5 million.  Ministers estimate the NHS needs to reserve a staggering £22.7 billion for payouts in 2012/2013 – up 22% on last year’s figure of £18.6 billion.

The paper says they blame spiralling costs on no-win no-fee lawyers and so-called ‘claims farmers’ that urge patients to sue.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which compiled the report, said: ‘We have this shocking, scary data. It is a ridiculous waste of money and I do not know where it is going.’

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

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