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Burnham claims ‘incredible victory’ over NHS Direct, the health benefits of four cups of coffee a day and some Daily Mail Friday fun

By Laura Passi

Our round up of health news headlines on Friday 10 September.

If you were confused about NHS Direct – well, the nationals report this morning, as Pulse reported last week, that it’s staying after all, at least as far as the service is concerned. As Andrew Lansley puts it: ‘I have not announced plans to scrap NHS Direct. I have announced plans to phase out the NHS Direct number.’

Andy Burnham – Mr Lansley’s predecessor and, of course, a Labour leadership candidate – is making political hay out of the statement, claiming ‘an incredible victory’. And The Guardian reports that Mr Lansley’s statement ‘appear to contradict statements from the Department of Health last month, including to the BBC, that said the service would be scrapped.’

Patients dying because of pressure on doctors‘ reads a headline in the Daily Telegraph, following an article by Dr Gordon Caldwell published in the BMJ claiming that the practice of making a working diagnosis can lead to patients being treated for the wrong condition. He writes: ‘We must allow clinicians enough time to be careful in diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment review.’

Time pressures on staff are also being investigated after two patients died during a night shift at Musgrove Park Hospital. The Times reports that the chief executive of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has been ‘summoned to appear before a coroner to address concerns about staffing issues’.

The Guardian claims that the ‘Strength of your handshake may indicate how long you’ll live‘, with other determining factors including ‘your usual walking speed, how long it takes you to get up from a chair and your capacity to balance on one leg.’ Note the word ‘usual’, which suggests that accelerating your walking speed may not actually make you live longer…

Four cups of coffee a day ‘helps women halve their chances of gout’ is a headline in the Daily Mail. Although of course, said women may never sleep again…

And finally a bit of Daily Mail-related Friday fun for you. The paper reports that ‘Users a third more likely to die early‘. Users of a pill, but what pill?

Can you guess? Here’s a hint: These ‘pill takers were more likely to succumb to every type of ill, from parasites to cancer’.

And an even bigger hint: these ‘tablets might also suppress the respiratory system aggravating breathing problems during sleep’.

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

Daily digest