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Swine flu death toll rises, A&E waiting time target scrapped and why everybody’s not free to wear sunscreen

By Christian Duffin

Our roundup of health news headlines on Friday 17 December.

The four-hour A&E waiting time target has been scrapped and the government has introduced eight new measures of quality, report several newspapers. Hospitals will be monitored on the number of people needing to re-attend A&E within a week of their first visit, those that ‘get fed up and leave after signing in at the front desk, and comparisons of the average times spent in A&E,' said the Times. (link behind pay wall). Matthew Cook, the national director for urgent and emergency care drew up the guidance with other clinicians and said it would cut waste.

The Guardian reports that the government's spending cuts in welfare payments and housing benefit will put 200000 children in poverty in 2012/2013. This conclusion comes form a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Chris Goulden, a poverty policy expert at the Joseph Rowntree Trust, called it a ‘reversal of fortune for the poor'. The Guardian also reports that the ‘white plague' tuberculosis is returning to London in the same way that it did in the 1990s in New York and California.

Wage rises of 60 percent among GPs, consultants and nurses have been a contributory factor in causing NHS productivity to fall every year in the NHS since 2000, according to papers including the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper reported findings from a report by the National Audit Office.

Six children are among the 17 deaths of people from flu so far this winter, reports the Daily Mail. Fourteen of the deaths are linked to H1N1 swine flu. Several other patients were critically ill at the time of writing.

And finally, The Daily Telegraph expressed shock that experts have ‘overturned decades of advice' by urging people to go out in the midday sun without sun block. The experts say that the danger of missing out on Vitamin D can outweigh the risk of cancer. Ten minutes exposure to the UK's strongest rays are enough.

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