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Hospitals under scrutiny, GPs and antipsychotics (again), nurse registrations and the man who ‘woke up gay’

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Wednesday 9 November.

Most of the national papers lead on the news that NHS hospital care is under renewed scrutiny after a damning new report highlighted how some patients were denied pain relief, told by nurses to go to the toilet in their seat and left without food and water.

The report from the Patients' Association says NHS is ignoring patients' needs because of 'a systemic problem' which requires an overhaul of hospital procedures to eradicate neglect by staff. It details 16 cases of 'appalling' care inflicted on people who were already very unwell.

The Daily Mail says that elderly patients were treated like ‘slabs of meat'  and that nurses refused to give painkillers to dying patients, while relatives were so concerned at the lack of care for their loved ones that they stayed on the wards round the clock.

The Guardian says the Department of Health has responded by pledging to 'root out' poor treatment wherever it occurrs and work with the NHS until the problems identified in the dossier were resolved.

The report follows a series of critical reports about standards of NHS care in some areas, especially of elderly patients, by watchdogs such as the Care Quality Commission and charities such as Age UK.

The Mail trails a Channel 4 TV News investigation suggesting children as young as five are being 'chemically coshed' with antipsychotic drugs prescribed by their GPs. The report - to be screened tonight - suggests 15,000 children under the age of 18 were prescribed medication such as Risperdal and Seroque last year by GPs – double the number a decade ago.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 14,999 children, up to the age of 18, were prescribed antipsychotics in 2010, compared with 7,649 in 2001. Of these, 253 were aged six or under, 3,205 were seven to 12 and 11,541 were 13 to 18. The figures are for prescriptions issued by GPs only. No data exists for the number of prescriptions issued in hospitals, according to the Mail.

The Independent and the Daily Mail cover Pulse's exclusive story this morning  that the Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering writing to GPs to urge them to check their nurses' registrations after a woman was arrested for allegedly posing as a nurse. The regulator said it is in discussion with the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) as many GPs are unaware of their responsibility for checking nurses' paperwork.

And several papers including the Daily Telegraph carry the story of a rugby-playing straight man who claims he woke up homosexual after suffering a stroke. Chris Birch, 26, suffered a stroke during during a freak training accident when he attempted a back flip and broke his neck.

Prior to the accident, Mr Birch was planning on settling down with his girlfriend and spent weekends playing sport and drinking with his mates. But folllowing his recovery he quit his bank job, grew to hate sport, called off his engagement and started dating a man, the Telegraph reports.


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