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PM’s family ‘split’ over GP reforms, dawn of the £30 paternity test kit; dogs that sniff out bowel cancer

By Gareth Iacobucci, Ian Quinn

Our roundup of health news headlines on Tuesday 1 February.

The extent of division in the medical profession over the Government’s health reforms was revealed from an unexpected source, in the shape of Prime Minister David Cameron, report today’s papers.

The press seize on comments volunteered by Mr Cameron during a visit to a London hospital, in which he admitted his own brother-in-law, a cardiologist in Basingstoke, had expressed major misgivings.

‘My brother-in-law is a hospital doctor and he says “you’re giving too much power to the GPs and hospitals will be disadvantaged”,’ let slip the PM.

The papers report how later the PM’s office put out a statement from Mr Carl Brookes, the man in question, who expressed his support for the plans-no doubt without an ounce of pressure from Downing Street.

No such support from the majority of GPs, however, according to a poll from the RCGP, which is also widely reported, claiming six out of 10 GPs oppose the direction of the Government’s reforms.

RCGP chair, Dr Clare Gerada, who commissioned the survey, tells how the survey shows the extent of GP fears over the pace at which the reforms are being implemented warning they could ‘cause irreparable and irreversible damage to the NHS.’

The same message comes from Gail Cartmail, general secretary of Unite, who told a press conference held before the second hearing of the bill the plans would lead to mass privatisation of the NHS, with patients no longer patients but consumers.

Under the any willing provider policy, she said: ‘private greed will leapfrog health need every time.’

The actual Commons debate over the transfer of £80bn of NHS spending to GPs gets rather less coverage than Cameron’s brother-in-law or the transfer of £80m worth of overpriced footballers to desperate Premiership teams.

However, in an interesting sketch piece in the telegraph, the paper comment’s on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s remarkable self-confidence and sincerity in defending the plans, concluding that if he proves to be justified ‘his name will one day be inscribed alongside Nye Bevan’s as the second founder of the NHS.’

But, it warns, ‘if the plan fails, he will go down as the man who destroyed this Government.’

In today’s other health news the papers carry the revelation that DIY paternity tests go on sale from today at Boots, surely spelling curtains for the Jeremy Kyle show as well as the Daily Mail warning it could ‘tear families apart.’

However, good news is sniffed out with the amazing discovery that labrador retrievers are able to be trained to use their sense of smell to detect traces of bowel disease with 90% success. So next time a dog starts checking out your behind, remember it could be a life saver.

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

Daily digest