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NHS patients to be ‘savvy consumers’ and the health costs of Heathrow

Patients receiving care from NHS and social care services need to be ‘savvy consumers’ instead of ‘grateful patients’ according to the new patient watchdog body, the BBC reports this morning.

Healthwatch England has set out a list of core rights for patients, following survey findings showing half of people who experienced poor care did not report it. The watchdog wants patients to insist on these rights around things like access to essential services, dignity, information and being listened to and involved in care.

Chair Anna Bradley said: ‘We all need to stop acting like grateful patients and care users and start to see ourselves as savvy consumers, insisting on our right to safe, dignified and high quality care.’

Elsewhere is more bad news for people living close to airports – research has again shown a strong link between aircraft noise pollution and increased risks of heart disease and stroke.  In one of two studies on the association published in the BMJ, tens of thousand of people in the loudest areas near Heathrow were found to have 10-20% higher risks of suffering and dying from these conditions, The Times reports.

The researchers said they still cannot determine if the noise causes vascular disease, but that policymakers should take the risks into account in decisions over a third runway at the airport.

Paul Elliott, senior author of the Heathrow study, said the research was ‘something that policymakers have to take into account’.  

He added: ‘The issue here is about the highest level of aircraft noise and that’s partly about planning.’