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Mid Staffs-style failures ‘throughout the NHS’, smoking ban helps child asthma and should the NHS offer self-help books?

Failures similar to those that were seen in the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal are taking place throughout the NHS, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned.

An upcoming report on standards – released in ten days’ time - will provoke a debate on the absence of ‘compassion’, the Daily Telegraph reports.

In 2009, regulators found between 600 and 1,200 patients died unnecessarily at Mid Staffs because of poor standards of care

And while stressing that the Mid Staffs case represented the worst of the problem, Mr Hunt is quoted as warning: ‘Everyone can sense that there are little bits of Stafford dotted around the system.’

Meanwhile, to add a bit of positivity on a cold Monday morning, the BBC reports that there was a sharp fall in the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma after the smoking ban came in place.

A study by Imperial College showed a 12% drop in the first year after the law to stop smoking in enclosed places came into force in 2007. The researchers concluded there is growing evidence that people are opting for smoke-free homes too.

The study, in the journal Paediatrics, said hospital admissions for children with severe asthma attacks were rising by more than 2% a year pre-2007.

Over the following three years, the percentage fall was equivalent to 6,800 admissions.

At the time of the smoking ban, opponents warned that people would smoke more at home and harm their families.  

But Professor Christopher Millett, who led the research, said: ‘We increasingly think people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home.’

Finally today, another study has found that prescribing self-help books on the NHS is an effective treatment for depression, the BBC reports.

Patients offered the books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use the books, found they had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered the usual GP care.

The study of 200 patients, published in the Plos One journal, concluded this was effective in conjunction with other treatments such as anti-depressants.

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