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Nursing cuts warning, the breastfeeding ‘bribe’ and another reason to avoid too much meat

Front page news on The Guardian this morning is the claim that patients are being put at risk because NHS hospitals are functioning with 20,000 fewer nurses than they need across England. According to Royal College of Nursing chiefs, as many as one in six nursing posts at some hospitals are being kept vacant, as managers try to meet the Whitehall-ordered drive to save £20 billion by 2015.

The figures come from responses to a Freedom of Information request from 61 out of 161 trusts, revealing an average 6% vacancy rate.

The college’s report concludes understaffing on this scale ‘will have serious consequences for patient safety’.

The other big story this morning is a pilot scheme to reward new mothers with £200 worth of shopping vouchers if they breastfeed their babies.  The Daily Telegraph explains the trial starts today in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and will involve 130 new mothers, who will be offered £120 in vouchers for high-street stores if they breastfeed for six weeks and a further £80 at six months. University of Sheffield researchers behind it hope it will boost breastfeeding rates, which are among the worse in the world. But critics have slammed the scheme as a system of ‘bribes’ that sets a ‘dangerous and insidious precedent’.

Finally, cutting out meat is the new way to avoid developing diabetes, says the Daily Mail.  The latest advice comes from research showing meat lovers have a higher chance of diabetes even if they eat lots of fruit and veg, according to the paper. The study in women showed those who ate the most acid-producing foods – including meat, cheese and fish – had a 50% higher odds of diabetes than those who ate the least. The effect wasn’t completely compensated by fruit and vegetables intake – and was surprisingly strongest for slim women.

The French study authors said: ‘From a public health perspective, dietary recommendations should not only incriminate specific food groups but also include recommendations on the overall quality of the diet, notably to maintain an adequate acid balance.’