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End-of-life care charter for GPs, sun factor cream storm and why now no vegetable is safe

By Christian Duffin

Our round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 1 June.

The newspapers look at the 'devastating impact' of changes to the welfare system today. Suicide rates among people with mental health problems are on the rise because they fear they will lose incapacity benefits through the Government's reassessment tests, reports the Guardian. The paper's concerns are based on a letter it received from leading mental health charities and a senior consultant from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The link between mobile phones and cancer was highlighted in national media after a report by the World Health Organisation urged users to cut back on their call volume. The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that phone signals are 'possibly carcinogenic to humans'. The Daily Mail quotes quotes Dr Christopher Wild, director of WHO'S International Agency for Research on Cancer, as saying: 'It is important that additional research be conducted into the long term heavy use of mobile phones…and take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure, such as hands-free devices and texting.'

Weaknesses in governance arrangements for GP consortia risk undermining the Government's aim of handing budgetary control of NHS funds to GPs, the Independent says. It draws on a report by a think tank that also highlights a problem in scaling back the role of the regulator Monitor. This would lead to 'reductions in the quality and efficiency of hospital services,' say the boffins.

All 8,500 GP surgeries in England will be asked to display a new seven-point charter on end of life treatment so that terminally ill people can be sure they will receive the best care available, reports papers including the Daily Telegraph. Dying people will be 'encouraged by GPs to set out clearly whether they wish to be resuscitated by medical staff and how they want to be treated in their final days'. The Telegraph states that 'damning reports' about for older people in hospital had prompted the initiative.

Sun lovers should apply a minimum of factor 30 sun cream if they bask in hot weather, several papers are warning. Their concerns follow a paper and editorial in the Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin which makes this recommendation. The researchers concluded that factor 15 sun cream offers all day protection only if it is applied thickly. The Independent reports that people do not reapply cream as often as they should 'after swimming or excessive sweating'.

Thousands on older people in care homes face and uncertain future because Britain's biggest provider, Southern Cross Healthcare, has run out of money to pay rent to its landlords, the Times reports. Morale at Southern Cross is at an 'all-time low', one anonymous employee at Southern Cross told the paper.

Spanish cucumbers are in the clear as the Germans seek to find out the reasons behind a deadly E.coli outbreak which has killed 16 people, reports the Independent. The German government had suspected that the vegetables were the source, but are now conceding that it could be other foodstuffs such as spinach or salads, because of animal manure used as fertiliser. The Independent quotes disgruntled Spanish agriculture minister Rosa Aguilar as saying: 'Germany accused Spain of being responsible for the E.coli contamination, but it did it with no proof, causing irreparable damage to the Spanish production sector.'

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

Daily digest