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Blue Monday – Tory leader set to defend embattled NHS reforms

By Edward Davie

Our round-up of the health headlines on Monday 16 May.

In an interview with Saturday’s Guardian, Professor Steve Field, the former Royal College of GPs chair appointed by prime minister David Cameron to review the Government’s health plans, described the reforms as unworkable and ‘destabilising’.

Then Sunday’s Observer reported that a senior Number 10 adviser says the NHS could be improved by charging patients and will be transformed into a ‘state insurance provider, not a state deliverer’ of care. Number 10 ‘kitchen cabinet’ member Mark Britnell told a conference of executives from the private sector that future reforms would show ‘no mercy’ to the NHS and offer a ‘big opportunity’ to the for-profit sector.

But Mr Cameron himself will today try to convince the public and health professionals that the reforms are necessary and positive. The Independent reports that he is to insist that there will be few compromises on the controversial NHS bill while claiming Conservatives are the ‘defenders’ of the health service. The PM will say that the health service can only be prevented from being crushed by financial and demographic pressure through radical reform: ‘We save the NHS by changing it. We risk its long-term future by resisting change now,’ he will say.

In a the Times (behind paywall) article the former (and future?) Tory health secretary and current chair of the Commons health committee Stephen Dorrell, says that combining the NHS and social care would save money and improve outcomes.

If a report in the Telegraph is correct, then we should be able to work out how long people will live and therefore assess the demographic time-bomb facing the service. Researchers have developed the £435 test, which they say accurately measures the length of a person’s telomeres, which is thought to be linked to longevity. Telomeres are sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage and the loss of cell functions associated with ageing.

Not only can genes indicate longevity, but also a predisposition to obesity according to the Daily Mail. Scientists have already identified a gene called KLF14 as being linked to type two diabetes and cholesterol levels, and now believe it acts as a ‘controller’ of fat tissue.

Meanwhile there are reports from a British Medical Journal article that says that not enough was being done to check the safety of medical devices before they are approved for widespread use. Now the NHS is bearing the cost of operating on patients whose implants have failed years earlier than expected, the paper reports.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily Digest