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Inactivity pandemic blighting nation’s health, maternity shortages putting mothers and babies at risk and the new ‘no-frills’ approach to IVF

The nation’s sheer lack of physical activity could be driving many to an early grave, the BBC reports this morning. According to an analysis by the leisure industry, as many as 35%-40% of people in poorer areas are exercising for less than 30 minutes a week, while 28% of the nation as a whole are this inactive.

Manchester had the highest proportion of inactive people at around 40%, followed by Sandwell and Salford on 39% each.

Premature deaths also peaked in those areas with the most inactive populations – in the fifteen most inactive areas there were 342 premature deaths per 100,000 people per year, compared with 242 in those where people exercised the most.

Fred Turok, chairman of Ukactive, said: ‘It’s no longer acceptable that physical inactivity remains the forgotten cause of death in the UK.

‘More deprived areas are faring worse in a physical inactivity pandemic – with no national strategy to improve our fitness levels.’

Elsewhere, the Telegraph says a damning report from MPs has revealed half of maternity wards are not providing round-the-clock cover and are putting mothers and babies at risk as a result.

The report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee said the risk of infections and injury was particularly high at weekends because of shortages of staff, with just 47% of units having enough consultants and a national shortage of 2,300 midwives.

The report also highlighted a huge 80% rise in negligence claims – accounting for a fifth of the maternity budget and a third of all medical negligence payments.

The report said: ‘The most common reasons for maternity claims have been mistakes in the management of labour and relating to Caesarean sections, and errors resulting in cerebral palsy.’

Finally, news this morning of a ‘no-frill’s IVF treatment about to hit the UK.

According to the Daily Mail, the low-budget technology, inspired by Alka-Seltzer tablets, costs just £1,000 and is at least as effective as current IVF technology used on the NHS that costs £15,000.

Professor Martin Johnson, emeritus professor of reproductive sciences at Cambridge University described results so far with the technique as ‘encouragingly impressive’ but warned against raising false hope, as the technique would not be suitable for all couples.