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Rich can skip cataract op queue, underweight people at higher risk of dementia and a rise in Welsh eating disorders

Half of NHS hospitals let patients jump the queue for cataract operations if they pay themselves, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed. The paper says that hospitals charge up to £2,700 for cataract surgery on one eye, three times as much as NHS pays, but that waits are otherwise up to eight months and rationing is often in place.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: ‘It is extremely worrying if people whose sight is starting to fail feel the only way to get help quickly is to pay for it.

‘Cataracts are extremely debilitating and treatment should be based on a clinical need not age or bank balance.’

People who are underweight or on the low side of normal weight in their middle age run a much higher risk of developing dementia, researchers have said. The study of health records from 2m people in the UK surprised study authors, the Guardian reports, as it was previously thought obese people suffered a higher dementia risk. Instead patients with a BMI of less than 20 were 34% more likely to develop the disease, they found.

The news comes as Welsh teenagers are struggling with their weight. The BBC reports that record numbers of them are now ending up in hospital due to eating disorders with an average 36% increase over a decade. But according to campaigner the availability of specialist eating disorder care in Wales is ‘patchy’ and there are calls for specialist units to be set up.