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The yellow brick road to NHS reform and Botox bladders

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Monday 12 March

If Andrew Lansley is the pantomime villain in the whole health bill saga then who is playing the plucky underdog hero? Hamish Meldrum? Clare Gerada? Kailash Chand? Andy Burnham?! In a rather persuasive letter to the Times (paywall) this morning, Lord Walton of Detchant makes a strong case for the House of Lords.

Lord Walton, a former president of the BMA who graduated in medicine when the NHS was a mere glint in Aneurin Bevan's eye, has labelled the health bill as ‘unnecessary, unacceptable and potentially destructive'. He applauds his own and his House of Lords colleagues' role in improving the bill ‘beyond measure', having tabled and had approved ‘many vital amendments, which have done much to modify or even overturn some of the worst features of the bill'.

Lord Walton ends: ‘I cannot but speculate with deep apprehension as to what fate the bill would have suffered if, on emerging from the Commons in the form that it did, it had been considered by a politically dominated and elected upper chamber'. It's been a while since such a convincing argument against democracy was put forward.

If the part of Dorothy is being played by the House of Lords, it seems as if the Lib Dems put their all into an audition in Gateshead this weekend to play the cowardly lion.

As reported in all the papers, including the Guardian, this morning, after ‘extraordinary manoeuvring' the party grassroots voted by 314 to 270 to delete a call for the for the party's peers to vote for the health bill's third reading, in a move the Guardian called ‘the nearest the delegates could get to outright rejection of the legislation'.

And finally, research reported in the Telegraph (not on web) has found that Botox, which is used cosmetically to smooth out wrinkles and paralyse facial muscles, could help women with overactive bladder syndrome to need the toilet less frequently. A British study found that patients saw a marked reduction in the frequency of the call of nature after receiving a jab of Botox in the bladder wall. However, the treatment comes with an increased chance of contracting a urinary tract infection – almost one in three compared with one in 10.