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Call centres (again), polypill clinical trial and why the MHRA thinks we are all taking too many drugs

By Laura Passi

Our roundup of health news headlines on Monday 4 January.

The Daily Mail follows up on a story broken by Pulse last year, regarding proposed NHS efficiency drives which included outsourcing administration duties to India.

The paper reports that an annual sum of 1 billion could be saved by making efficiencies, outlined in a report by NHS Shared Business Services. However, critics have seized upon the idea of hospital appointments being made in Indian call centres, calling the idea ‘cheapskate' and are, according to the Mail, ‘furious'.

According to the Daily Telegraph, pharmacies are refusing to vaccinate children against swine flu even though the Department of Health has said there is ‘nothing to stop' high street pharmacies from offering the jab. The paper claims this issue has arisen from ‘confusion over rules' but Boots, Lloyds, Tesco and Sainsbury's firmly state they do not inoculate children, with Boots giving a fair reason: ‘In accordance with our registration with the Care Quality Commission, Boots can only offer patients aged 16 years and above a private flu vaccination.'

The Guardian reports the start of a polypill trial ‘that could prevent heart attacks and strokes' in the over 50's. The idea was first proposed by British professors in 2003 and it is hoped that if the trial is a success then it ‘will pave the way' for a low-cost pill, which could be available to ‘anybody over 50 in the UK' within a couple of years.

Another trial is reported in The Metro. A blood test which could be capable of detecting one cancer cell in a billion, will be trialed. It is hoped the test could offer an alternative to invasive treatments such as colonoscopy and mammogram and ‘it could also give doctors a better idea of how well tumour treatments are working.'

The Independent reports that the head of Britain's drug safety regulator MHRA, Professor Sir Alasdair Breckenridge, has said: ‘NHS patients are being prescribed too many drugs with detrimental effects on their health and the loss of millions of pounds from the health budget.' He also said ‘huge savings' could be made by ‘tightening controls on the £10bn NHS medicines bill.'

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

Daily digest