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Hunt gives heavy hint that GPs may have to take back out-of-hours responsibility, and other health news



In the news this morning, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has given his strongest hint yet that GPs will be asked to take back responsibility for out-of-hours care, but without ‘necessarily’ having to work weekends and evenings to provide the service themselves.

It comes as the Daily Mail reports about the difficulties some private out-of-hours care providers have had securing cover. In some cases, GPs have been offered up to £150 an hour to cover a shift at short notice, the paper reports.

Mr Hunt said it was a mistake to remove GPs’ responsibility for out-of-hours care, but ‘not because family doctors should necessarily go back to being on-call in evenings and weekends; they work hard, they have families and they need a life too’.

Also hitting the headlines is a report from charity Age UK on how elderly people are left languishing on hospital wards for a month while waiting for a place at a care home. According to the Daily Express, the report found elderly people wait an average of 30.3 days, with the cost to the NHS around £250 per patient each day, compared with the £524 average weekly cost of residential care.

Charity director Michelle Mitchell said: ‘Waiting in hospital not only needlessly wastes NHS resources.It can also undermine an older person’s recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families. The steep rise in the time people are waiting for a care home place, home care or adaptations suggests that something has gone seriously wrong.’

Finally, the Telegraph reports on more research suggesting that when it comes to judging how healthy a person’s weight is, measuring waist-to-hip ratio is better than body mass index. Researchers from Oxford Brookes University followed people for 20 years and found death rates were more closely linked to the waist-to-hip ratio than body mass index. They argue that it would be best to measure the ratio in children in particular, to judge if they are at risk of obesity and health problems later in life.

Lead researcher Dr Margaret Ashwell said: ‘If you are measuring waist-to-height ratio you are getting a much earlier prection that something is going wrong, and then you can do something about it.

‘The beauty is that you can do it in centimetres or inches, it doesn’t matter. We have got increasing evidence that this works very well with children as well, because whilst they grow up their waist is growing but also their height.’