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End to mixed-sex wards, how many GP consortiums there will be, and the personal budgets used to pay for prostitutes

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Monday 16 August.

The Daily Telegraph splashes this morning on a big health story - health secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged to abolish mixed-sex wards in hospitals.

It is, as the paper points out, almost 15 years since Tony Blair first pledged that they would be abolished, but Mr Lansley has set himself a punishing schedule – the Telegraph reports he ‘will say that men and women sharing hospital accommodation will be a thing off the past in all but accident and emergency and intensive care units by the end of the year'.

It's a story covered widely, and you can also read it via the Daily Mail, the BBC and, in somewhat partisan form, the Daily Mirror.

The Financial Times has a thoughtful analysis piece by veteran correspondent Nicholas Timmins looking at the shake-up in GP commissioning. He predicts that there will be fewer GP consortiums than the widely-touted figure of 500-600, far fewer.

‘The number is likely to be lower – perhaps 200-300, or fewer still,' he writes. ‘But in neither the primary care trusts nor the private sector are there sufficient commissioning skills to support anything like that number.'

‘So the odds are that there will be a period of mergers, with the number of consortia contracting sharply to match the supply of commissioning skills. The new NHS could swiftly find itself relying on a much smaller number of bodies that will commission care.'

The Daily Mail reports a call from the Government's scientific advisory committee on nutrition for milk to be fortified with ‘the sunshine vitamin' – sorry, vitamin D – in order to prevent heart disease and cancer.

It's not technically a health story, but GPs with long memories will remember Alan Milburn as a previous incumbent at Richmond House, and the fallout from his decision to join the coalition Government as a social mobility tsar continues this morning. He's been branded a ‘collaborator' by a furious John Prescott, the Daily Mail reports.

And finally, the naysayers have long predicted that entrusting patients with personal budgets to spend on their healthcare is a recipe for disaster – and a classic what-a-waste-of-our-money tale in the Daily Mail proves they might just be right.

Freedom of Information requests looking at how personal budgets in social care have been spent reveal that the £520 million scheme has been used to pay for internet dating, visits to lap-dancing clubs and exotic holidays.

But the best/worst/most outrageous use of money?

'A man of 21 with learning disabilities has been granted taxpayers' money to fly to Amsterdam and have sex with a prostitute,' we're told.

Which in a slow news week in the dog days of August is pretty much the Daily Mail's dream story.

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

Daily Digest