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Burnham in the frame for Labour health spokesperson and GPs compared with ‘local priests’

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 7 October.

GPs are not providing a broad enough range of care and support for their patients and should take on the role once taken by a ‘local priest’, according to a report covered by the Telegraph.

An RCGP and the Health Foundation commission report, says: ‘In some ways the generalist can be seen as fulfilling for many people the type of role that a local priest would have occupied for them in former years: a respected figure who could be turned to for non-judgmental advice on a range of issues including, but not limited to, health care.’

The same paper reports shadow health secretary John Healey has resigned leading to speculation that former health secretary Andy Burnham will make a return to the Labour NHS brief. However a member of the current Labour health team told Pulse that this was ‘very unlikely’ and that there would be ‘real problems with his return.’

New figures, reported in the Guardian , show that the total number of drug users entering treatment for heroin or crack cocaine has fallen by 10,000 over the past two years.

Meanwhile Bristol and Manchester universities and the Warneford hospital, Oxford, research suggests that changes in the way coroners record verdicts for unnatural or unexpected deaths may have led to an underestimation of suicide rates in England and Wales, the Guardian reports

Times are hard at Whipps Cross University Hospital Trust in east London, the Telegraph says, with doctors and nurses being asked to voluntarily ‘sacrifice’ part of their annual leave, take unpaid leave or perform ‘additional unpaid sessional duties’.

More widely hospitals seem to be cutting back on physiotherapy, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) new research reported in the Guardian.

Finally the Telegraph reports on King’s College, London research which suggests that the type of ultraviolet radiation used by tanning beds causes damage underneath the outer layers of skin, meaning its harmful effects may not be seen on the surface.