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Scottish sleep apnoea sufferers left out in the cold, the dangers of internet slimming pill and could ‘health hotels’ break the bed-block?

The Guardian has reported that NHS chiefs are looking at a novel way of solving the problem of a lack of hospital beds by planning to treat thousands of patients in hotels instead of on wards. NHS England is currently looking at the feasibility of putting patients in hotels at or near hospitals, to help alleviate the problem of ‘bed-blocking’, where patients are fit enough to be discharged but cannot go home because they need support to live independently which is not available.

The ‘health hotels’ – which are apparently common in Scandinavia and the US – would be cheaper for the NHS and more patient-friendly, according to supporters. University College Hospital in London opened a 35-room hotel last year, the paper says.

Meanwhile, Sleep apnoea sufferers in rural areas of Scotland may be left undiagnosed and untreated because of a lack of services, reports the BBC today.

According to research by the British Lung Foundation, the people most likely to suffer from the sleep disorder live in the Highlands and Island, Tayside and the south of Scotland – but specialist clinics are based in the central belt.

The report comes as health boards are under pressure to cut costs and improve standards by centralising services. But James Cant, head of the British Lung Foundation in Scotland, said: ‘There is an awful lot that can be done in sleep medicine at a local level. There can be better partnerships with GPs and local district general hospitals.’

A number of papers pick up on the tragic case of a young woman who died after taking the fat-burning drug DNP – a banned drug she managed to buy over the internet. The Telegraph reports that 23-year-old medical student Sarah Houston died after secretly taking DNP while she was undergoing treatment for bulimia.

Her brother James said: ‘In addition to being a sister, a daughter and a friend, to lose someone so young in this way adds to our devastation.

‘There have been at least 62 further deaths related to DNP. We as a family are distraught and are keen to make sure no other family suffers in this way.’

He added: ‘While the FSA has banned it from human consumption, its risks are not widely known and it does not seem to affect the ease at which it can be bought from the internet.  I hope that more can be done to make people aware of the dangers of DNP.’