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Debate rages over nurses’ role in out-of-hours care, magnets as a depression treatment and is the pill a passion-killer?

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of the news headlines on Tuesday 4 May.

The Daily Mail featured a big story over the weekend on out-of-hours care, with an investigation turning the spotlight on the increasingly prominent role of nurses in providing cover.

A snapshot survey of PCTs reveals that at four there are now more nurses than GPs working overnight shifts, while at a further seven trusts there are an equal number. Their conclusion? ‘Out-of-hours care on the NHS is now so bad that thousands of patients are being treated by nurses instead of doctors because they are cheaper to employ.'

The Scottish Parliament, however, would beg to differ – Nursing Times reports that a new report from its committee on health and sport highlights the crucial role teams of community nurses and nurse practitioners could have to play in providing out-of-hours care in rural areas.

The Times reports that hospitals across the country are preparing for post-election cuts, in a ‘dramatic shift in attitude to the great NHS taboo of reducing the number of hospitals and beds'.

We're told 26 organisations across England approached the Independent Reconfiguration Panel over the past year for advice on restructuring care in their area – compared to just 13 last year.

A number of papers including the Daily Mail cover a story based on Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Conservatives which show that mixed wards are still very much a reality – despite claims from the Government that they had been ‘virtually eliminated'.

According to the figures there were 18,685 breaches of the rules in NHS trusts in the last year alone, while half of hospitals are still using different bays to segregate patients rather than ensuring they are on different wards.

The Daily Telegraph covers new research suggesting that magnets could be an effective new drug-free treatment for depression.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in America conducted a study of 190 depressed patients, and found that those who had magnets applied to their head to activate certain parts of the brain ‘were more likely to report their depression lifting than those treated with a similar device without a magnet'.

And finally, the Telegraph and the Mail are among the papers to report a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine which concludes that taking the pill could put women off sex.

Researchers in Germany quizzed 1,086 sexually active women, and found that ‘the women who took hormonal contraception suffered the most sexual dysfunction especially compared with those who used other types such as condoms.'

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

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