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#GPnews: Stop talking about the ‘weekend effect’, Hunt advised

16:07 Having no friends can give you a heart attack, Harvard Medical School researchers have suggested.

The researchers reached their finding by studying the correlation between the size of a person’s social circle and levels of a blood-clotting protein known to cause strokes and heart attacks.

They found that people with just five people in their social network had a 20% higher level of this protein, called fibrogen, than those with 25 friends.

Meanwhile, a decline in 10-12 friends in one’s social circle apparently had the same impact as taking up smoking, the Telegraph reports.

‘If there is indeed an independent causal relationship between social isolation and fibrinogen and, subsequently, heart disease and stroke, then policies and interventions that improve social connectedness may have health effects even beyond the well-known benefits of improved economic conditions,’ said lead researcher Dr David Kim of Harvard Medical School.

14:13 The BMA has issued a warning after GP practices missed out on trainee reimbursements in light of NHS England’s handover of the responsibility to Capita. The ‘serious issues’ with payments are causing significant problems to affected practices, the GPC said.

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12:05 The time spent commuting to work is getting longer across the UK, with an increasingly negative impact on public health, a report has warned.

The Royal Society for Public Health surveyed 1,500 commuters, finding that 55% experienced increased stress – with delays, overcrowding and antisocial behaviour of other passengers having the worst impact.

It said this comes as the average commuting times have lengthened to nearly an hour across the UK, writes the Express.

Commuters polled said this gave them less time to prepare healthy meals, less time for exercise and sleep, and that they ended up snacking more on unhealthy foods as a result.

RSPH suggested solutions could include relieving overcrowding on trains by boosting their capacity, with an easy win being to declassify first-class carriages. It also suggested employers could allow workers to work more flexibly, either from home or with flexible hours, meaning they could sometimes avoid the rush hour.

10:40 Department of Health civil servants have advised health secretary Jeremy Hunt to stop talking about the so-called ‘weekend effect’ because it isn’t helping to win over doctors and the public to the Government’s seven-day service plans.

Mr Hunt has repeated the claims, embattled by experts, that the risk of dying is higher if admitted to an NHS hospital on the weekend than during the week, as part of his bid to change working terms for hospital doctors.

But a leaked briefing from the DH, obtained by the Guardian, said: ‘The link to the weekend effect has not been helpful for seven-day services as our insight tells us that patient safety is not top of mind for the public or the workforce.’

The claim that doctors are not so bothered about patient safety has riled the BMA though, with chair Dr Mark Porter responding in heated tones.

He said: ‘Patient safety is very much at the forefront of doctors’ concerns, which these documents suggest is not the case for the Government.

‘We know that delivering weekend and night services to the standards developed by doctors will take proper funding and staffing. The Government must make this investment for our patients and the future of the NHS rather than continue to mislead the public with what these documents show to be meaningless manifesto promises.’

The news comes after yesterday’s revelation that Mr Hunt was warned by his civil servants that the seven-day routine NHS plans risked causing ‘workforce overload’, including due to a lack of GPs.

09:35 Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is to promise to ‘renationalise’ the NHS in a speech today, reports BBC News.

According to the report, Mr Corbyn will pledge to end private provision in the NHS, which has seen £16m worth of contracts awarded ‘through the market’ since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into effect in April 2013.

Mr Corbyn is expected to say: ‘The Tories have run our treasured National Health Service into the ground and we need to get serious about stopping them.

‘The next Labour government would go further than reversing Tory cuts – it would deliver a modern health and social care service that is fully publicly provided and fully publicly funded.’

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