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#GPnews: Hunt says there is ‘no retreat’ from junior doctor contract imposition

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17:00 We end this Monday afternoon’s live blog with a finding that people over 40 do best when only working a three-day week, as reported by the BBC.

Researchers studying over 6,000 men and women said their findings, which focused on their subjects’ ability to perform, needed to be taken into consideration by countries (such as the UK) which are raising their retirement age.

The report said that work ‘can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress which potentially damage cognitive functions’.

With the study carried out in Australia, could the NHS be faced with even more competition from the antipodean health service?

15:55 Responding to an urgent question from shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander in the House of Commons, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has clarified that there has been ‘no change whatsoever’ to his stance on imposing the junior doctor contract.

He clarified that:

  • There was never any plan to force change to ‘existing contracts’ but that the changes would be phased in as employments changed;
  • Although Foundation Trusts have, in theory, a right to set their own pay conditions, in practice ‘they don’t exercise it’;
  • Non-FTs do not have power to refuse terms of a national contract;
  • The Government has a ‘mandate’ for a seven-day NHS and there is and will be ‘no retreat’ from this.

13:28 All Scottish babies could be given a box to sleep in for the first few months of their lives, as part of a bid to reduce child poverty, reports the Independent.

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) said it will copy the baby box scheme – which has been successful in Finland in reducing cot deaths – should the party be reelected on 5 May.

Aside from a mattress, the boxes distributed for free to all parents at childbirth would contain clothes, toys and nappies, writes the paper, costing around £100 a pop.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘By providing every new-born with a baby box we can help child health – and by providing greater support to new family we will also help tackle child poverty and improve the chances of some of our most deprived children.’

11:25 Over a third of people with Parkinson’s disease feel that they need to hide their symptoms or lie about having the condition, new research has found. 

Parkinson’s UK carried out a survey of 1,868 people with the condition to find out how they dealt with their diagnosis, the BBC reports

The charity said that people with Parkinson’s disease feel the symptoms are ‘not socially acceptable and may embarrass those close to them’. 

09:45 Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has done a u-turn over the junior doctor contract imposition, according to the Guardian’s front page splash today.

The paper says Mr Hunt has ‘retreated from his claim that he has the right to’ impose the contract, in legal letters responding to the BMA’s court challenge.

In response, the Labour Party calls for an urgent clarification to be given to Parliament on how the contract will be introduced if Mr Hunt does not have the legal right to impose it.

But the Mail reports that Mr Hunt has ‘denied’ the u-turn, paraphrasing the Department of Health as saying its position remained consistent.

The confusing exchange comes as junior doctors are due to take historic full-out strike action on 26 and 27 April in protest over the imposition.