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Review of the NHS complaints system, early treatment ‘can functionally cure’ one in ten HIV sufferers, and are you feeding your baby too much?

An MP who claimed her husband ‘died like a battery hen’ in a hospital is leading a review of the NHS complaints system, the Telegraph reports today.

Ann Clwyd was appointed by the Prime Minister to look at how complaints from patients and their families are listened to and acted upon in the NHS.

The review, which she is conducting with Professor Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will also look at how the NHS handles concerns raised by staff and how it deals with whistleblowers.

Ms Clwyd gave a harrowing account last year of the care of her husband, Owen Roberts, who died of hospital-induced pneumonia in October.

She told MPs yesterday that since speaking out she has received multiple anonymous examples of poor care and treatment in the NHS.

Ms Clwyd said: ‘We all hope that when we go into hospital the care we receive will not give us cause to complain. However, when something does go wrong, it must be easy for patients and their carers to speak up, without fear.’

‘I am determined that the result of this review will be a system that ensures that any complaint or concern that patients or whistleblowers make will be listened to and acted upon.’

Over at the BBC, French researchers are confident that rapid treatment after HIV infection may be enough to ‘functionally cure’ one in ten people.

They analysed 14 people who stopped therapy, but have shown no signs of the virus resurging.

The news follows the report of a baby girl being effectively cured after early treatment in the US.

A group of patients, known as the Visconti cohort, did not see a return of the virus when they stopped taking antiretroviral drugs after an average of three years.

They all started treatment within 10 weeks of being infected, while most people infected with HIV do not find out until the virus has fully infiltrated the body.

Normally when the antiretroviral drugs are stopped, the virus re-emerges, but some patients in the Visconti cohort have been able to control HIV levels for a decade.

Dr Asier Saez-Cirion, from the Institute Pasteur in Paris, said between 5% and 15% of patients could be functionally cured, meaning they no longer needed drugs, by attacking the virus soon after infection.

‘Most individuals who follow the same treatment will not control the infection, but there are a few of them who will.’

‘They still have HIV, it is not eradication of HIV, it is a kind of remission of the infection.’

He added that early treatment might limit the number of untreatable HIV ‘hideouts’ formed in the body, but said it was ‘unclear’ why only some patients were functionally cured.

And finally the Daily Mail warns that a mother’s love is putting many children on the path to obesity, as three quarters of babies and toddlers are fed more than the recommended amount of calories every day.

The number of calories babies need varies hugely depending on their age, how quickly they grow and whether they are active, but generally infants under six months will not need more than 600 a day, while those aged six months to a year should not have more than 750.

But official DH figures show mothers are exceeding this amount by more than 100 calories a day.

Mr Tam Fry, from the Child Growth Forum, said the problem was partly caused by mothers giving babies calorie-dense food from jars or formula milk that contains more calories than breast milk.

The figures also how that a fifth of infants had never been breast-fed.

Mr Fry said: ‘Mothers are giving them foods such as ready-made purees which are energy dense but not necessarily nutritious. After a short period of time, children want more so they are given snacks which, equally, aren’t nutritious.’

‘Babies are continually being formula-fed which is more calorie-dense than breast milk. Additionally, breast-fed babies stop sucking when they have had enough. The problem with formula feeding is that mothers expect babies to finish the bottle, even if they don’t want it.’