This site is intended for health professionals only

NICE stripped of rationing role, ‘mayhem’ for diabetes patients and an end to DIY dentistry

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of health news headlines on Monday 1 November.

No doubting what the big populist health story of today is – and like most of big populist health stories, it's to be found on the Daily Mail's front page.

Drug victory for patients' screams the headline, above a story declaring that ‘the scandal of patients being denied drugs just because the NHS rationing body decides they are too expensive will end'.

Following on from a slightly more cautiously worded story in the Guardian on Saturday, the Mail reports that NICE is to be stripped of its powers to ban drugs on the NHS, and that the limit of around £30,000 spending per Quality-Adjusted Life Year is to be axed from 2014.

And who will instead be given responsibility for rationing? You guessed it. ‘The Department of Health now says that NICE would no longer be "acting as an arbiter on the availability of drugs", with GPs instead deciding what the NHS could afford.'

The Daily Telegraph has a front-page story warning that diabetes patients ‘face mayhem' after the withdrawal of Novo Nordisk's drug Mixtard 30. A group of leading academics have written to the paper warning that a switch to newer drugs for the thousands of diabetic patients using the drugs will cost the NHS £9 million and could causes unnecessary hardship for patients – Novo Nordisk, however, told the paper that it was withdrawing the treatment at the end of the year due to a lack of demand.

The Mail reports that ellaOne, a morning-after pill that can be taken up to five days after intercourse, is ‘being sold online by a British company'. There are ‘fears that making it available at the click of a button will fuel promiscuity, and warnings that an internet service cannot carry out the same health checks as GPs,' we're told.

The Times (still behind its paywall, so no link) reports today that the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to the relatives of some of those who died as a result of ‘appalling' neglect at the trust. Dozens of families and victims who survived are to receive payouts ranging from £1,000 to £27,500.

And finally, back to the Mail, where there's some par-for-the-course bashing of primary care professionals' ‘golden deals' – but this time it's dentists' contracts which are in the firing line.

We're told the health secretary Andrew Lansley will today ‘vow to tear up contracts that have made dentists rich'. It comes as new figures reveal emergency admissions have increased by 40% over the past decade, and in the Sun we're told ‘hundreds of desperate patients pull out their teeth with PLIERS because they cannot find an NHS dentists' – a statement accompanied by a frankly horrific picture of Iraq war veteran Ian Boynton who was reportedly forced to yank out thirteen of his own teeth because he could not afford private treatment.

Another DIY dentist Don Wilson described the process thus: ‘You keep pulling and pulling, then you get a cracking noise'.

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

Daily Digest Daily Digest