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Hunt cracks down on ‘avoidable’ hospital deaths, NHS charges for asbestos and how wine may help fat metabolism

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered an annual review of ‘avoidable’ hospital deaths, after claiming 1,000 patients die needlessly in NHS hospitals every month. The Guardian reports on Mr Hunt branding it the ‘biggest scandal in global healthcare’.

The news was accompanied by some apparently good news for Mr Hunt’s ‘special measures’ regime, however, as it was claimed some 450 deaths have already been avoided in hospitals where this has been implemented.

A landmark ruling is due on whether Welsh firms whose employees have been exposed to asbestos during the course of their work should have to reimburse the NHS for the cost of treatment received. The BBC reports that Labour Pontpridd AM Mick Antoniw proposed the law in 2013, saying it could raise £1m for the NHS a year, but the insurance industry challenged the Assembly’s right to pass legislation on the issue.

The Welsh Supreme Court was asked to settle the decision and its ruling could see the new legislation implemented.

And finally, The Telegraph reports that instead of contributing to beer bellies, antioxidant chemicals in wine and red grapes could slow the rate of fat storage by boosting fat metabolism in the liver. Researchers from three American universities have identified chemicals in wine which help regulate metabolism, one in particular – ellagic acid – is found in many other fruits and vegetables.

Neil Shay, author and molecular biologist from the University of Oregon said: ‘By boosting the burning of fat, especially in the liver, they may improve liver function in overweight people.’