A round-up of the health news in the papers on Thursday 9 February
Two big stories and one very small one occupy the health headlines this morning: the NHS reforms, hereditary heart disease risk… and a mosquito.
The Guardian says Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg have agreed they have no alternative but to push ahead with the planned NHS reforms even though they admit they are in ‘a rubbish place politically’ and it could take three years until the general election to persuade voters that fears about the reforms are unfounded.
As the bill enters the Lords report stage, peers inflicted an early defeat over the issue of social care. By a margin of four votes, peers demanded mental health be made a higher priority, the Guardian says.
Meanwhile there was a fresh embarrassment to the reforms after part of a major risk assessment into the bill by NHS London was published on the internet, suggesting changes could lead to the financial ‘failure’ of some NHS organisations, worse care for patients, and threats to maternity services, children’s safety and public health, the Guardian reports.
The Independent has two further angles on the story. The paper says senior Tories – including a Cabinet minister – are getting cold feet over the bill and have urged David Cameron to abandon it.
The paper also follows up its story on Dr Clare Gerada yesterday with claims of a rift in the RCGP over the college’s survey on the reforms – with senior members saying the poll did not represent all members.
The RCGP called for ministers to abandon the bill last month after 1,760 members approved the strategy.
The Independent quotes college members as saying: ‘Some GPs are very opposed to the Bill but a lot of others believe we’ve just got to get on and make this work and it is unhelpful for the college to take such a political stance.’
Another said: ‘A motion went to Council but it was decided not to discuss it because it had not been submitted in time. Instead of it being put to a full vote at a later meeting we have gone ahead and called for the Bill to be dropped on the basis of an online poll. We are a charity and I think we should have been much more careful before getting so politically involved.’
The story on inherited heart disease comes from a study published in The Lancet in which researchers from the University of Leicester studied the DNA of over 3,000 men. They found a particular version of the Y chromosome present in one in five men increases the risk of coronary artery disease by 50%.
The Mirror says the risk is “hardwired” into men who possess the variant known as haplogroup 1.
The Daily Telegraph quotes Dr Hélène Wilson, research advisor at the British Heart Foundation, the main funder of the study: ‘Lifestyle choices such as poor diet and smoking are major causes, but inherited factors carried in DNA are also part of the picture. The next step is to identify specifically which genes are responsible and how they might increase heart attack risk.
‘This discovery could help lead to new treatments for heart disease in men, or tests that could tell men if they are at particularly high risk of a heart attack.’
Finally, that mosquito. Culex modestus is back. The insect which bears the West Nile Virus which causes flu-like symptoms and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord has been found breeding in north Kent and south Essex for the first time since the 1940s, according to the Mirror.
The mosquito is suspected of causing virus epidemics in southern Europe but experts stressed no one has ever been infected after being bitten here.