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Doctors – fancy ‘having a go at the Government’?

Medical politics tops the health agenda today in the broadsheets. Several carry the story that more unions have called for the health bill to be scrapped.

The Guardian says health secretary Andrew Lansley has accused trade unions of ‘wanting to have a go at the Government' after the Royal College of Nursing, which represents 420,000 staff, and the Royal College of Midwives called on them to drop the bill.

The organisations join the BMA which came out against the bill last year.

The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian both carry the story about a new regime proposed in a consultation paper by regulator Monitor would see hospitals' fiscal standing taken into account alongside factors such as clinical quality and how well they ‘co-operate' in the NHS.

The Telegraph says the new assessment would ask ‘major credit ratings agencies' to give ‘a clear indication of the financial strength of the [healthcare provider] and the perceived capabilities of its board and executive team'. The proposals would come into effect following the NHS reorganisation currently underway.

Under the plans, providers of health care – including both hospital trusts and private companies – would be expected to achieve an ‘investment grade' rating – BBB by Standard & Poor's, Baa3 by Moody's and BBB by Fitch.

The Independent weighs in with the story reported in Pulse yesterday that doctors are threatening to go on their first strike in 40 years - over pensions. A BMA survey showed almost two out of three would back some form of industrial action.

No relief in the tabloids, where the Daily Mail reports that risk of foetal alcohol syndrome in an unborn baby is highest if their mothers consume alcohol in the seventh to 12th week of pregnancy. A team led by Haruna Sawada Feldman from the University of California, San Diego, studied nearly 1,000 women during their pregnancies over three decades.

They found that drinking during the second half of their first trimester was linked with growth deficiencies in weight and height along with facial deformities that are telltale signs of foetal alcohol syndrome disorders, according to the Mail. The results will be published in the April 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.