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Next generation vaccines, hospital closures and why you live your life on ‘autopilot’

Our round-up of the health headlines on Monday 20 June.

Did you take the bus or train to work this morning? If you drove, did you stop at the traffic lights? Are you even reading this story now? Here's some breaking news for you on this Monday morning: most of us are living on 'autopilot', according to a new study, The Daily Telegraph reports.

A staggering 80% of people admit that they carried out many tasks, from commuting to work to making a cup of tea, without any conscious thought, The Child Accident Prevention Trust found. According to the research, this is the mind's way of avoiding information overload, but building up 'safe routines' could protect you from danger.

The Independent reports on a think tank's warning that 20 hospitals across the country must be taken over, merged or closed if the NHS is to improve patient care and stay within its budget. Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund, first told the Observer that as many as 20 hospitals needed wholesale reform. 'Several hospitals have large deficits and it is clear that existing services cannot be sustained either clinically or financially,' he said.

Vaccines could become the next generation of therapy after a new method of treatment was discovered, The Mirror says. cancer Research UK scientists have taken a 'library of DNA' from the same organ as a tumour and inserted it into a virus to attack cancers. This wakes up the immune system, which often ignores cancers, and gets the patient's body to fight back against any growths, the paper reports. They quote Professor Alan Melcher from the University of Leeds, who led the study, as saying it was 'exciting and promising'.

The Guardian reports that The Royal College of Surgeons have approved trials on voicebox transplants. Professor Martin Birchall, professor of laryngology at the University College of London Ear institute, has two British patients lined up for the controversial procedure. He says that now he has the backing of the college, he can apply for funding to begin the complex operations in the UK in early 2012. The surgery may help people who had cancer of the larynx to speak and breathe normally again.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know, and we'll update the digest throughout the day...