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The NHS gets the travel bug, Scotland’s drug habit and why we should worry about Westminster’s memory

If you thought the NHS played such a large part of the Olympic opening ceremony just because of British pride, think again.

The Government has hatched a scheme to sell the NHS brand abroad by setting up profitable branches of famous British NHS institutions abroad.

The scheme – which has been put together by the Department of Health (DH) and the UK Trade and Investment department (UKTI) – attracted immediate criticism from the Patients Association, concerned that in times of financial stringency at home, establishing overseas clinics would be a distraction too far and could undermine standards at home, The Guardian writes.

But the government points to clinics that already exist, run by big-name NHS trusts with a reputation around the world, such as Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in the Middle East. The government thinks there could be lucrative possibilities for NHS-standard healthcare services in growing markets such as India and China.

Staying in Whitehall, a study of Westminster civil servants has linked obesity in middle age to early memory loss.

News outlets including the BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent all report on new research claiming that those who are obese in middle age, and have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, lose their memory and thinking skills almost a quarter faster than slimmer people.

The researchers at University College London based their study on almost 6,500 Whitehall civil servants, with the participants, aged between 35 and 55, taking tests on memory and other cognitive skills three times over a 10-year period.

People who were both obese and who had unhealthy metabolic changes showed a much faster decline on their cognitive test scores compared to others in the study.

Obesity has already been tipped as a risk factor for dementia.

Meanwhile in Scotland, tabloid Daily Record has struck up debate with their article on Government spend prescribing methadone to addicts.

The paper said £36million a year is paid to pharmacists for the heroin substitute. It also said the substitute drug was linked to a record 275 drug deaths last year, while heroin killed 206 people.

There are 22,000 addicts on the methadone programme in Scotland with a lack of Government statistics into how many of those end up drug-free.