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The end of NHS Direct, walking to prevent cancer and can the iPhone replace the stethoscope?

By Neha Pathak

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Tuesday 31 August.

RIP NHS Direct. Your life has been short. The headlines this weekend were full of the Government’s plan to scrap the service after health secretary Andrew Lansley reportedly let the cat out of the bag on Friday.

The Guardian reports ‘NHS Direct to be replaced by cut-price health advice service‘ whilst the Daily Mail’s headline is ‘Government confirms plan to scrap NHS Direct in favour of new non-emergency number‘. The new magic number? 111. Simple, easy-to-remember, and hopefully without a dull monotone at the other end.

GPs have long urged the Government to scrap the service despite it attracting an estimated 27,000 callers a day, and the Guardian story quotes Pulse’s investigation earlier this year which exposed the scheme’s failure to reduce the crowds flocking to A&E and GP surgeries – 12% of callers were sent to A&E and 22% were referred to their GPs.

Walking for breast cancer takes on a whole new meaning today with the Telegraph reporting ‘Brisk walking could prevent 10000 cancers a year‘. World Cancer Research Fund scientists have found that just 45 minutes of exercise daily could stop 5,500 cases of breast cancer and 4,600 cases of bowel cancer each year. And if you’re wondering where you’ll find time to fit it in, fear not – even vacuuming the living room counts.

Will the wonders of the iPhone ever end? ‘Phone app to replace the stethoscope‘ reads the Daily Telegraph this morning, following news that University College London’s free stethoscope app is being downloaded at the rate of 500 a day.

Television is heralded as the modern-day Satan by (surprise) the Daily Mail: ‘Ban TV to protect children’s health top psychologist tells EU politicians‘. This follows research suggesting that watching TV increases obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, inattentiveness and more. The question is, what else can you use to distract the little ones at 6am on a Saturday morning?

The Telegraph ominously warns against ‘second-rate’ drugs, reporting ‘Heart patients’ lives at risk in switch to cheaper drugs‘. Recent research suggests that switching to a generic simvastatin from Lipitor, known as atorvastatin, can result in increased cholesterol.

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

Daily Digest