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Suspended heart operation unit, calcium pill risks and free ‘hymenoplasties’ for all

By Laura Passi

Our round-up of health news headlines on Friday 30 July.

Surgery at the smallest children's heart unit in England should remain 'suspended until or unless the service can safely be expanded', The Guardian reports today. The report looks at the findings of an independent review into the deaths of four babies at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after having been operated on by a junior consultant, Mr Caner Salih.

Although the report states there were 'no errors of judgment that directly led to any of the deaths', there were problems in the 'induction and mentoring' of Mr Salih, says the newspaper. His superior ‘booked a three-week holiday at the time his new junior surgeon arrived', so that probably didn't help either. The report also found ‘neither surgeon expressed any enthusiasm for joint working.'

The Daily Mail reports, this morning, that ‘increasing numbers of Muslim brides are having taxpayer-funded "virginity repair" operations before marriage.'

Of course, the ‘increasing' part is only six more in 2009 than 2005 AND the ‘Muslim' part refers to information about patients from private clinics, not NHS. ‘There have been calls for a ban on NHS surgeons carrying out the operations for women wanting to marry as virgins', which are unnecessary because, as a spokesperson for the NHS said, ‘the NHS does not fund hymen repair operations for cultural reasons. Operations to repair the hymen are only carried out exceptionally to secure physical or psychological health.'

The Telegraph reports 'Calcium pills increase heart attack risk'. Academics at Auckland and Aberdeen carried out studies which covered 12,000 people concluded that 'serum calcium levels have been positively associated with an increased incidence of [heart attack] in large observational studies'.

And other scientists, or perhaps the same ones (it's not clear), believe that ‘higher "serum calcium levels" in the blood, can lead to hardened arteries.' The academics have ‘called for a rethink on giving people calcium supplements for bone health.'

If you feared this news would discredit the make mine milk ads on the side of buses, it appears ‘taking calcium as part of a diet does not appear to have such a marked effect', so be reassured by the A-Teams milk-moustached faces imploring you to 'drink up fool!'

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

Daily Digest - 30 July 2010