This site is intended for health professionals only

Parents who refuse children’s jabs could ‘lose benefits’, hope for a universal vaccine for flu and how the smell of new trainers could help cure phobias

Families who refuse to get all of their children’s immunisations, including the MMR jab, could lose their child benefit, under a new policy being floated by the Labour party.

The policy, which has been used in Australia, would see parents only receive child benefit if they are able to prove that their children’s vaccination records are up to date, the Times reveals this morning. However, the Labour party disowned the policy.

The number of patients on GP lists ‘greatly excedes the population’ in England, a Sunday Times investigation has revealed. It is now claimed that so-called ‘ghost’ patients have cost the NHS more than £450m over the past three years.

British scientists could have found the clue to creating a ‘universal’ vaccine for all strains of flu, the Telegraph reports.

The research, which started during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, has concluded that those who escaped the virus - or caught it but experienced no symptoms - had ‘far more’ of a certain type of immune cell.

Study leader Professor Ajit Lalvani, from the National Heart and Lung Institute, said: ‘New strains of flu are continuously emerging, some of which are deadly, and so the Holy Grail is to create a universal vaccine that would be effective against all strains of flu.’

Health regulator Monitor has brought a fresh bout of bad news on waiting times in English A&E departments, reporting that missed targets ‘more than doubled’ in the last year.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told the BBC: ‘David Cameron’s ill-judged re-organisation has placed the NHS in the danger zone.’

Patients could be helped to overcome fears and phobias and even PTSD during their sleep, US researchers claim.

The experiment saw patients exposed to seemingly random smells - including lemon, wood and ‘new trainers’ - while looking at pictures related to their fears. They were then exposed to these smells during their deep sleep. The slow-wave sleep periods are when people are thought to be processing emotional memories, the BBC reports.