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The cost of GP translators, ‘false pandemic’ claims and how dusting will get you into shape

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of news headlines on Monday 11 January.

We start the week in a fairly unlikely way, with an exclusive in-depth investigation in the Sun into funding for translators in primary care.

But rather than highlighting the shortage of translators in deprived urban areas or the challenges faced by GPs who can't properly communicate with their patients, they've gone for a rather different angle. ‘£22 million so foreigners can understand GPs' is the paper's headline.

The Daily Mail meanwhile carries controversial claims from Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, that ‘the swine flu outbreak was a ‘false pandemic' driven by drug companies that stood to make billions from a worldwide scare'.

The Mail – which knows a worldwide scare when it sees one, of course – says the ‘claims come as it emerged the British government is desperately trying to offload up to £1 billion of swine flu vaccine.'

However we're told that the Government's head of immunisation, Professor David Salisbury, 'rubbished' Dr Wodarg's claims, and a GSK spokesman is quoted as saying 'allegations of undue influence are misguided and unfounded', pointing out that it was the World Health Organisation which declared swine flu met the criteria for a pandemic.

The Times reports that a post-election budget squeeze may herald swingeing cuts in health research. Entire fields of medical science risk losing support – the Times suggests public health and reproductive medicine may be first for the chop.

The Telegraph carries a call from the National Obesity Forum for pregnant women to be regularly weighed to protect unborn children against maternal obesity.

And finally, a number of papers including the Telegraph cover new research querying the relative exercise effectiveness of the Nintendo Wii Fit, which recently became the first computer game to receive the official backing of the Department of Health, versus a spot of housework.

Experts at Which? Computing magazine compared ten minutes of using the Wii Fit with ten minutes of household chores – and found that while ten minutes of the Wii Fit burned just 25 calories, cleaning the bathroom used 34 calories and ‘the person vaccuming clocked up 42 calories.'

The message, the Daily Mail's headline concludes, is clear: ‘Forget your Wii workout just do a bit of dusting'.

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

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