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Norovirus warning, rickets re-emerges and the ‘perfect storm’ in the NHS

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Monday 19 December.

‘Tis the season for a sharp rise in norovirus cases as seven London hospitals and nine across the country close wards to new patients, according to the Daily Mail. The paper quotes a Health Protection Agency spokesman warning people to weather the bug at home rather than risk spreading it in hospitals and waiting rooms.

The same newspaper claims a quiet epidemic of vitamin D deficiency is behind a number of quashed convictions for child abuse. A ‘Victorian’ rise in rickets (five-fold in 15 years) means parents are falsely accused for the consequences of diseases caused by children spending more time indoors, swaddled against skin cancer in summer. GPs, the paper says, should be especially watchful for the symptoms of vitamin deficiency in pregnant women.

Directors and senior managers at NHS trusts and PCTs are being told to resign long before the transition to clinical commissioning is complete, in what former Labour health minister Andy Burnham called ‘a perfect storm’ of tumultuous reform and financial squeeze,  the Guardian reported this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Times (paywall) reports that 3,000 doctors are under investigation because of concerns about their competence after a Department of Health report found NHS whistleblowers were being systematically ignored. Government advisors said doctors under investigation should be removed if costly remedial training proves futile. 

Finally, Korean dictator Kim Jong-il’s death of heart failure on Saturday offers a warning of the dangers of taking on too many stressful responsibilities.