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Unions to press ahead with pensions strikes, and Celts told to ‘eat like the English’

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Thursday 3 November 2011

Lay coverage of the new GP contract focuses on the relaxation of practice boundaries, which the Telegraph says will mean ‘millions of patients will be able to remain registered with their family doctors after moving to a different neighbourhood.’

The paper adds that NHS patients in England will also be able to choose to register with a doctor near to their workplace or their children’s school to make services more convenient, in a plan to be tested in ‘two or three cities’ next year.

Most papers, not least the Daily Mail, are incredulous that trade union leaders are to press ahead with plans for a national strike, involving up to three million public sector workers, after the TUC gave a lukewarm response to a series of concessions on pensions reforms from the Government. The offer, announced in the Commons, is an 8% improvement on the original deal with no loss of current benefits for those within 10 years of retirement.

Meanwhile, in the Lords, the Guardian reports that ministers ‘paused’ a key part of the Government’s NHS bill to stave off an embarrassing rebellion from key Liberal Democrats – a move that ensures peers will now debate the controversial legislation until Christmas.

At the heart of the debate is the Government’s plan to hand over its ‘constitutional responsibility’ to provide NHS services to a quango. But a number of Lib Dem peers, led by Lady Williams, insist health secretary should be responsible for the provision of health services.

The Guardian also documents how the King’s Fund wants another part of the bill amended in the Lords. According to the think-tank Monitor’s expanded role risks ‘confusion.’

The Telegraph reports that ‘dosing up’ heart disease patients with nitroglycerin, routinely used to widen blood vessels, could end up damaging the organ. Researchers from Stanford University found that rats dosed with it for 16 hours sustained twice the muscle damage when they had heart attacks, compared to those spared nitroglycerin.

Meanwhile the Guardian says about 1,500 lung cancer patients die unnecessarily every year because they are not offered an operation and too few NHS surgeons are skilled in removing tumours, a report warns today.

Most hospitals offer surgery to far fewer patients than the 30% of people with the disease who doctors believe would benefit from treatment, according to an audit of 400,000 lung cancer operations since 1980 by the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery .

And finally in research reported in the Telegraph claims poor diets in the devolved celtic nations are claiming thousands of British lives a year.

The study, undertaken by academics at Oxford University, estimates that 3,700 deaths from heart disease, strokes and cancer, could be prevented annually if everyone in the UK ate as healthily as the English.