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PA, The Independent,
Monday, 22 December 2008

Every GP will be trained to spot the first signs of dementia under plans to provide sufferers with a better quality of life, the Government said today.

“Memory clinics” will also be set up in every town as places where patients can get treatment and support to live their lives as normally as possible, Care Services Minister Phil Hope said.

A total of 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia.

By: Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, The Independent
11 December 2008

Family doctors are committing up to 600 errors a day, mainly in diagnosis and treatment, but are among the worst staff at reporting them, an NHS watchdog says today.

Family doctors are committing up to 600 errors a day, mainly in diagnosis and treatment, but are among the worst staff at reporting them, an NHS watchdog says today.

Many errors are minor, but up to one in five cause harm to patients and failure to report them means they are more likely to be repeated, the Healthcare Commission says.

By: Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, The Independent
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The number of people infected with HIV acquired through heterosexual contact in the UK has almost doubled in four years, figures issued yesterday show. There were 960 new diagnoses in 2007 compared with 540 in 2003, the Health Protection Agency said.

Although the bulk of the 4,260 new infections diagnosed in this country last year were acquired abroad, the sharp increase contracted in the UK has taken them from one in 10 to almost one in four of all heterosexual cases.

A spokesman for the HPA said the UK heterosexual cases were concentrated in the African community, and most were infected by partners infected abroad. “They are quite small numbers and although they were acquired in the UK they are linked with people who have travelled,” he said.

By: Martha Linden, PA, The Independent
Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Nearly 4,000 new cases of mental health disorder were diagnosed last year among armed services personnel, according to figures published today.

Mental health statistics released by the Ministry of Defence showed 3,917 new cases of armed services personnel assessed to have a mental disorder in 2007 by the MoD’s department of community mental health.

A breakdown of the statistics showed that, in line with the first nine months of last year, there were no statistically significant differences in the rates of overall mental disorder between those who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and those who had not deployed during the last quarter of 2007.

But the figures showed a significantly higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among those who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan compared with those who had not deployed to these countries.

By: Harriet Shawcross, PA, The Independent
Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A former head of the Islamic Medical Association sent a homophobic letter to a magazine for GPs, saying gay people needed the “stick of law to put them on the right path”, the General Medical Council heard today.

Dr Muhammad Siddiq was working as a GP at the Walsall Teaching Primary Care Trust when he wrote the letter to Pulse in July last year.

A GMC fitness to practise panel, in Manchester, heard Dr Siddiq’s letter read: “There is punishment and fine if you throw rubbish or filth on the streets, the gays are worse than the ordinary careless citizen, they are causing the spread of illness and they are the root cause of many sexually-transmitted diseases.

“They need neither sympathy nor help, what they need is the stick of law to put them on the right path.”

By: Nina Lakhani, The Independent
Monday, 27 October 2008

People with mental health problems will be driven into poverty by the introduction of a new benefit today, campaigners have warned.

Around half of applicants for the employment and support allowance are expected to be rejected because of much stricter rules, forcing thousands of people with mental health problems on to the much less generous job-seekers allowance, or into jobs they are unable to cope with and which could lead to a relapse in their conditions.

Thousands more will face tough new sanctions on the benefit which replaces incapacity benefit, if they fail to attend regular work-based activities and interviews. This could lead to benefits being withdrawn completely.

Experts say this fails to take into account the erratic nature of mental illness and could leave sick people destitute.

By: Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, The Independent
Thursday, 23 October 2008

Scientists have made a dramatic leap forward in the treatment of multiple sclerosis with the discovery of a drug that not only halts the disease but can also reverse it.

The discovery is being hailed as the biggest advance against the debilitating neurological condition for more than a decade and could prove effective against other, similar diseases. The MS Society said it was “delighted” by the results.

Scientists believe the drug, alemtuzumab, may also be effective in other conditions. Further studies are under way into its use in autoimmune conditions such as rhemumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks itself, and in transplant surgery.