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The truth about ‘shambolic’ swine flu call centres, a tax clampdown for doctors, and it’s official: watching TV will kill you

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of news headlines on Tuesday 12 January.

GPs have long been suspicious about the diagnostic capabilities of the National Pandemic Flu Service – but an article in today's Daily Mail would seem to confirm their worst fears.

Call centre whistleblower 18-year-old Ashleigh Venus, who began work after just three hours training, claims patients were often diagnosed by operators ‘high on cannabis or drunk on vodka'. Patients were ‘routinely mocked', we're told, and workers often ate pizza and played board games while speaking to patients. Far-fetched? Possibly – but there's a very convincing picture of a game of Scrabble accompanying in the piece.

Meanwhile the Mail reports that doctors, dentists, hospital consultants and cosmetic surgeons are to be targeted in a new tax evasion crackdown. Medics are the first professional group to be targeted by a new scheme from HM Revenue and Customs – they have been given a three month amnesty to declare previously undeclared earnings without fear of prosecution, after which ‘investigators will pro-actively investigate all medical professionals they suspect of evasion.'

A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health points to the growing public health challenge posed by bad eating habits. As reported in the Daily Mail, researchers from Leeds University found that just one percent of schoolchildren's packed lunches meet basic nutritional standards.

Watching television may or may not make your eyes go square – but it has now been scientifically proven to shorten your life. That's according to a new study by researchers at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

In research published today in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and covered in the Times, we're told that even healthy people who exercise increase the chances of premature death from heart disease by 18% for each hour per day spent in front of television. There was also a 9% increase in the risk of cancer, and 11% risk of death from all causes.

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

Daily Digest