This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs on the stock market, cannabis and psychosis, a new test for prostate cancer and the Mozart effect

By Alisdair Stirling

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Wednesday 2 March.

GP practices could be partially floated on the stock market, a report in today’s Guardian suggests.

Documents obtained by Channel 4 News and passed to the Guardian, show a private health firm, IHP, proposes that the commissioning budget for patients be handed over to a private company in which GPs would own a 20% stake.

IHP is in talks with three GP consortiums to set up a company that would turn underspends in their annual budget – in effect, savings on patient spending – into profits.

This company, which aims to list on the stock market in three to five years, would treat patients at 95% of the cost of the NHS. This putative saving, amounting to £40 per patient, would be booked as ‘profit’.

Elsewhere, smoking cannabis doubles the risk of psychosis for teenagers, according to the Daily Mail, reporting on a new study in the BMJ. Young people who started smoking the drug at college were 90% more likely to have psychotic symptoms in their mid-20s, the study of 1,900 14 to 24-year old Germans found.

And some users suffered psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, delusions and disordered thoughts. The research team – from Germany, the Netherlands and the Institute of Psychiatry in London – concluded: ‘Cannabis use precedes the onset of psychotic symptoms in individuals with no history of them.’

The Mail also reports that a reliable test for prostate cancer could be available within months.

The new test measures production of a protein called EN2, and initial studies show it to be much more accurate than previous tests. In trials on 288 men it detected up to 70% of cancers, making it roughly twice as good as the PSA test.

Importantly, it gave false positive results just 4% of the time – ten times less often than the PSA test, according to a study in Clinical Cancer Research.

The Daily Telegraph also covers the story reported in Pulse with a different spin – that 100,0000 patients in England have received the wrong diabetes diagnosis.

For every 500 people identified with diabetes on a GP register, about 65 to 70 could need to be looked at again for some sort of error, the paper says.

Finally, the health effects of music – the so-called ‘Mozart effect‘ – are reported in the Daily Express.

Scientists believe music can soothe pain, make you fitter, benefit epilepsy sufferers and speed recovery after a stroke, according to the Mail.

After suffering years of chronic pain patients who listened to music for just one hour a day for a week reported a cut in pain levels of up to 21% and in associated depression of up to 25%, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing showed.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily digest