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Labour’s five point plan for A&E pressures, Nicholson defends ‘demonised’ GPs and the link between TV and sugary drinks

The health secretary has been urged to personally review all proposed closures across England as part of Labour’s five-point plan to ease A&E pressures.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said ensuring there were safe staffing levels at A&E departments, reviewing the NHS 111 phone number and halting the closure of walk-in centres was needed to solve the current rise in emergency department waiting times. He also asked the Government to use around half of 2012/13’s NHS £1.2 billion underspend to allow councils to maintain social care.

But Mr Hunt said that NHS trusts and CCGs were allowed to keep their underspends and roll them over to subsequent years.

‘If we took away this money and put it into social care, we would have to take it away from hospitals where it is needed most to help tackle pressures in A&E and other places,’ he said.

As the row over A&E waiting time escalates, outgoing NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has suggested he wants to ‘liberate’ the NHS from political meddling in the final months of his job, the BBC reports.

He said he will soon launch a strategy review and said the aim was to create a ‘long lasting’ vision of independence that would withstand the electoral cycle.

He also criticised the way GPs were being ‘demonised’, in a comment that some will perceive to be a veiled attack on health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Daily Mail brings bad news for young TV-addicts. Just an hour of watching television makes children 50% more likely to have a sugary drink, researchers found. A study at the University of Gothenburg revealed that parents who don’t try to curb the number of TV adverts their children watch are twice as likely to have children that consume such beverages every week.

This could be down to exposure to adverts, or simply that children enjoyed drinking sugary drinks while watching TV, researchers said.