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Cuts, cuts, more cuts and sex

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Monday 21 November.

A combination of Government cuts and rising demand is leaving care services at breaking point in some areas, according to a year-long inquiry by the charity Mind, reported in The Independent.

Mental health services for society’s most vulnerable people are unfit for purpose, the paper says.

Seriously ill patients are subjected to assaults, taunts and overcrowding in over-stretched hospital wards where containment rather than recovery is the priority. Others on the verge of suicide or a manic breakdown cannot access help because crisis teams are too busy or closed outside office hours.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that the elderly are suffering because councils are cutting hundreds of millions of pounds from their nursing and care home budgets.

In an interview with the paper, Paul Burstow, the care services minister and a Liberal Democrat MP, is demanding to know why councils are failing to pass on £2 billion of extra money that the Government allocated to support for frail and disabled adults.

He accused dozens of authorities of “clearly” failing to act “in the best interests” of their residents and said a number of councils are expected to be targeted with interventions to ensure that they “improve productivity” without sacrificing key services.

As other papers catalogue the crisis in care for the elderly and vulnerable, The Guardian reports on a shot across the Government´s bows from eminent epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

Professor Marmot warns that the economic recession must not be allowed to derail government spending on a health and social equalities agenda and that the test of every policy should be whether it improves all our lives.

Professor Marmot – who was commissioned to review health inequalities in England by the Labour Government – told The Guardian he would like every policy in national and local government tested for its positive impact on health – a better indicator of people’s wellbeing than the happiness which people currently try to measure.

There´s little else to counter the gloom on an evidently slack news day but the Independent at least finds something for us to look forward to, with the news that sex is the answer to a contented retirement

A survey of 238 men and women aged over 65, presented at the Gerontological Society of America, found 60% of those who had regular sex said they were very happy compared with 40% for whom it was a distant memory.

When it came to their marriages, 80% of those who had regular sex said they were very happy compared with 59% of those who did not.