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Bower resignation fall-out, cancer referrals and new advice on caring for older patients

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Friday 24 February.

NICE’s recommendation that hospital staff should give greater priority to patients’ requests for food, drink, pain relief and the chance to have a wash makes the top health story in the Guardian today.

NICE drew up its patient standard and guidance after care – especially over elderly patients’ nutritional needs and privacy – was criticised in reports by the NHS ombudsman, Care Quality Commission, Age UK and the Patients Association, the paper says.

The institute wants health professionals to ‘develop an understanding of the patient as an individual, including how the condition affects the person, and how the person’s circumstances and experiences affect their condition and treatment’.

The Daily Mail leads on the two doctors suspended over allegations that women were granted illegal abortions based on the gender of their baby.

The suspensions follow an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph which found consultants apparently agreed to terminate a pregnancy based only on the baby’s sex, with ‘no questions asked’.

As part of the investigation, reporters accompanied pregnant women to nine clinics across the country, of which three said they were prepared to abort the baby because of its gender.

The Independent leads on the head of the Care Quality Commission who resigned yesterday from her £200,000-a-year post, saying it casts the future regulation of the NHS into doubt.

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the CQC, announced it was ‘time to move on’ as the Department of Health announced a review of the organisation she heads, which has been beset by low morale, lack of funds and board level disputes.

The newspaper says criticism of Ms Bower’s stewardship has been bubbling for months and there was speculation yesterday that she had chosen to go while she could ‘hold her head up high’.

The DH is preparing to publish results of inquiries into failures of regulation at the Winterbourne View care home and allegations by a member of the CQC board of a ‘dysfunctional’ regime at the organisation in the next few weeks.

Finally, back to the Mail which reports that many patients with less common cancers are referred to a specialist for diagnosis only after three or more trips to their GP

A study has found that patients with multiple myeloma, pancreatic, stomach and ovarian cancer – each occurring in fewer than 10,000 patients a year – are most likely to need several GP visits before a hospital referral.

Researchers at Cambridge University found three-quarters of cancer patients who first went to their family doctor with suspicious symptoms were referred to hospital after only one or two consultations, the paper says.

But the study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal, said there were ‘wide variations’ depending on the type of cancer and patient.