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UK stillbirth rate ‘too high’, health funding ‘too low’ and brain scans for Alzheimer’s

By Michael Klimes

Our round-up of the health headlines on Thursday 14 April.

The Times' science correspondent, Hannah Devlin has a gripping story in the paper today that quotes the findings of a study which shows that rates of babies dying in Britain before or during labour is higher than anywhere else among the richer nations. The UK's stillbirth rate of 3.5 per 1,000 births ranks it 32 places below the best performer, Finland.

Neil Long, chief executive of Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity said: 'Eleven babies dying every day is a national scandal which has persisted for far too long in this country. This seemingly endless death toll of thousands of babies every year has the most terrible long-term impact on parents and families.'

Meanwhile, The Guardian has an analysis of the coalition Government's budget plans for the NHS. According to the newspaper, the average yearly rise in NHS's budget has been 4%. Between 2000/01-2010/11, while Labour was in office, that rose to 7%.

But for the next few years, that increase will, at best, be 0.1% above inflation and is not nearly enough money to cope with the clinical and financial pressures on the NHS, the newspaper says.

The Telegraph has an article on the millions wasted on ineffective operations each year. The Audit Commission has found that hospitals are wasting £500 million a year on procedures for infected tonsils, troublesome wisdom teeth and varicose veins. The commission recommends curbs to cut spending on unnecessary operations.

Finally, the Daily Mail has a story on a new study which shows that brain scans could help defeat Alzheimers through early detection. Dr Brad Dickerson, who led the research team from the Rush University Medical Centre and Massachusetts General Hospital said: 'This measure is potentially an important imaging marker of early changes in the brain that could help develop predict who might develop the disease and possibly even how long it might be before dementia develops.'

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

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