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Alcoholic doctors, allergic patients and why commissioners face the sack for imposing minimum waiting times

The health news headlines on Monday 14 November 2011.

While a slew of press articles strive to paint doctors as alcoholic fraudsters today, it is senior NHS managers who are reported to face the sack for rationing services.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley announced a ban on minimum waiting times for hospital treatment, to take effect from next March, promising to fire PCT chiefs who persist in forcing patients to wait 15 weeks for treatment to save money.

Mr Lansley also complained about the NHS’s ‘secretive’ culture to  the Guardian , and vowed that hospital trusts will have to make public all data on surgical outcomes – including deaths, ward-by-ward infection rates for all resistant bacterial strains,  readmission rates and complaints.

The cash squeeze has hit care homes too. Local authority fee reductions averaging £2,000 per nursing home resident over the past two years mean that legal standards of care can no longer be met, according to a report by Bupa Care Services, reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail was doing its bit to tarnish the image of doctors.  One in 15 doctors will develop an addiction problem at some time in their careers, and are three times more likely to die of liver cirrhosis than the general population, the paper says, quoting  the BMA as its source.

Another article quotes a report by the think tank 2010Health, which blames managers and doctors  for defrauding the NHS of £3 billion every year.

An estimated 1,730 people in India have died while taking part in clinical trials over the past three years – the result of the country relaxing its regulation of drug testing, according to an investigation by The Independent.  Abuses highlighted include recruiting children without parental consent and adverse events not being linked to the medication under test.

The Independent also reports that cases of perennial allergic rhinitis – allergy to the household dust mite – have risen  by 10% in the past year, and now account for 58% of all household allergies, according to a poll by Allergy UK.