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Home birth risks, GPs accused, Whistleblowers surface

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Thursday 25 November.

An RCGP report looking at the factors resulting in delayed diagnosis of cancer is used as another bat to beat GPs this morning.

Despite RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada saying GPs did a ‘fantastic job’, the Daily Mail accuses GPs of forcing ‘tens of thousands’ of patients with cancer to return to their GPs’ at least four times’ before being referred to hospital.

Experts do defend GPs in the Mail, explaining the first symptoms of some cancers can easily be confused with IBS, tiredness or a cough. For a more balanced view of the audit, read Pulse’s take on it here.

A ‘landmark study’ about the risks of home birth was widely reported this morning in the broadsheets. The Telegraph and the Times (login required) both lead with the home birth risk to first-time mothers, while the more ‘glass half full’ Guardian and Independent led with the safety of home birth for second babies.

The survey of 65,000 low-risk women adds to what the Independent calls ‘among the most emotive debates in medicine’ by finding that obstetric units are safer for first-borns but, unsurprisingly, there is a higher rate of c-sections, forceps-use and epidurals than at home births.

The Times (login required) reports how first-time mothers are twice as likely to have a baby who dies or is seriously harmed if they give birth at home. The paper claims that the findings, which show second births at home, are ‘just as safe, convenient and less invasive for women of low risk’ have prompted ‘calls for thousands of women to have their children outside traditional labour wards’.

The ‘leadership, capability and culture’ of the CQC is being called into question in a public enquiry into the ‘Mid-Staffs’ scandal, reports the Guardian. The inquiry, which was recently closed, will reopen on Monday after two whistleblowers came forward. The whistleblowers allege that the CQC’s investigation team was disbanded by a small group led by chief executive, Cynthia Bower, and not the whole board.