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Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK


Inquiry into Caesarian costs

The government has ordered an inquiry into the cost of Caesarian births, as the number being performed continues to creep up.

Junior health minister Baroness Hayman told the House of Lords on Monday night that the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit would report back in the autumn.

She said that between 1997 and 1998 19% of live births in Northern Ireland were Caesarian deliveries.

This compared to 17% in England, 18.5% in Scotland and 18.1% in Wales.

Since 1994/95, the number being performed has risen by 4% in Northern Ireland, 1.5% in England, 2% in Scotland and 2.3% in Wales.

Stress costs US $42bn a year

The US, famed for its obsession with counselling, spends $42bn a year on anxiety and stress-related disorders, according to a report.

This is the bill for treatment and time off work caused by the most common cause of mental illness, according to the National Co-morbidity Study, ordered by Congress.

More than 19 million Americans a year are thought to suffer from anxiety, including obsessive compulsive disorders.

Only 2% of the $42bn was due to drug costs, while $23bn was spent on non-psychiatric medicine and $13bn on psychiatric treatment.

Cholesterol drugs have double effect

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may have other properties which reduce heart disease, say scientists.

A study found they reduced inflammation of heart blood vessels - another contributory factor in heart disease. The changes were unrelated to the any decline in cholesterol levels.

Dr Paul Ridker, from Harvard Medical School, said: "This drug appears to have an effect beyond lowering the bad cholesterol. Our data suggest that their long-term use may be working on two aspects - cholesterol levels and inflammation."

Cancer drug cuts off tumour blood supply

Another drug has been found which can kill tumours by cutting off their blood supply, say researchers.

Combretastatin may be able to alter the shape of cells lining blood vessels, reducing the flow of blood.

One hour after giving the drug, vessels supplying blood to the central portion of a tumour were shut down almost completely, the study said.

This is another in a series of treatments which tackles tumours by restricting either the growth of new blood vessels or by affecting those already supplying the tumour.

Patients put in hotel rooms

A hospital is planning to put patients in hotel rooms in a bid to ease pressure on beds and waiting lists.

St Mary's Hospital, in Newport, Isle of Wight, has been under such intense pressure that patients have been waiting for a bed in casualty for up to eight hours.

A meeting between IoW Healthcare NHS Trust chiefs and the Impact Foundation, a registered charity which will fund the initiative, is due to take place next week.

The hotel rooms would be staffed by qualified nurses and receive post-operative patients, predominantly cataract and orthopaedic cases, said a hospital spokesman.

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