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Postcode lottery harm, cancer is named UK’s number one killer and the rat that’s taken a fancy to an operating theatre

Today brings us the worrying news that 40 operations had to be cancelled at what the Independent describes as ‘embattled’ King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield, after a rat was discovered in surgical theatre. 

The Nottinghamshire hospital which is reported to be facing a £2bn debt under the controversial private finance initiative (PFI), confirmed that it called in pest controllers last week.

Senior managers apologised to patients but said none had been put at risk by the presence of the rat which is believed to have entered the theatre when it was not in use.

Rats can spread salmonella and the potentially deadly Weil’s disease.

The article quotes Karen Tomlinson, director of operations at the hospital who said rodents had not been discovered in any other part of the hospital.

She said: “As soon as we became aware of this fact the following morning, we immediately took steps to thoroughly clean the area and called in external pest control experts to eradicate the problem.

“Whilst this work was under way, it was therefore necessary to postpone a small number of operations and we have apologised to any patients affected for the inconvenience caused.”

Meanwhile the Guardian informs its readers of a new King’s Fund study which warns that a GP postcode lottery is harming patients.

The study found that Londoners and people in deprived areas receive the lowest-quality care by GPs.

Their analysis of NHS performance data at more than 8,000 surgeries across England reveals stark geographical inequalities in the quality of primary care. The conclusions came from examining which practices fared best and worst in delivering good healthcare under the NHS’s quality outcomes framework and patient satisfaction ratings.

About half the weakest-performing practices (40%-60%) are in London and about 40% in the poorest areas, based on how they look after patients with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, the researchers found.

Elsewhere the Daily Telegraph reports on findings which show that cancer has overtaken heart disease as the country’s number one killer.

According to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) almost a third of people now die of one kind of cancer or another.

The mortality statistics for 2011 show that cancer was recorded as the underlying cause of death in 143,181 people in 2011, or 29.6 per cent of total deaths in England and Wales.

Cardiovascular disease was recorded as the underlying cause in 139,706 people, or 28.8 per cent of deaths.

This is a turnaround in position from 2010, when 32.0 per cent died of cardiovascular diseases and 28.7 per cent died of cancer.