Daily digest March 6 2015

Missed the news? Read our summary of the latest health stories

Smoking ban must be enforced in prisons, judge rules

The ban on smoking in public places must be enforced in state prisons despite warnings that it could provoke widespread unrest in jails across England and Wales, a high court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Singh said that, in arguing that the 2006 ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places did not 'bind the Crown' and so did not apply in prisons, the justice secretary had 'wrongly understood' an exemption under the legislation, the Guardian reports. The exemption was interpreted as meaning that prisoners could smoke in their cells but not in common areas of prisons.

In ruling that the smoking ban should be extended to prisons, the judge acknowledged there were prisoners 'who feel the need to smoke and may be resistant to the criminalising of that conduct in places where in my view the Health Act does apply'.

Read more on the Guardian website: click here

Hospitals told to clear beds before Easter weekend

GPs have been ordered to open on Saturday over Easter and hospitals told to empty their beds in the coming two weeks amid fears of an NHS bank holiday crisis.

Health officials have drawn up emergency plans because of concerns that struggling A&E departments could become overwhelmed over the four-day Easter bank holiday, the Daily Telegraph reports.

NHS organisations have been given two weeks to make 'robust demand and capacity plans' for the period and to discharge as many healthy patients as possible from both acute and community hospitals, to free up beds.

The unprecedented orders from NHS England, setting out an 11-point plan for hospitals, GPs and social services, come after hospitals suffered the worst performance on record over Christmas.

Read more on the Telegraph website: click here

Whales could help explain the mystery of menopause

The wisdom of killer whale matriarchs could help to explain why women go through the menopause, scientists have claimed.

The menopause is one of the great puzzles of evolutionary biology. It is thought that the females of only three species — killer whales, pilot whales and humans — live beyond their reproductive age.

Researchers at the universities of Exeter and York have found that older female killer whales act as 'repositories of ecological knowledge', guiding their families to the best hunting grounds and improving their chances of passing on their genes, the Times reports. Professor of psychology at the University of Exeter Darren Croft said the menopause could have evolved in humans for similar reasons.

(£) Read more on the Times website: click here

Sitting is bad for the heart – and a gym session won't help

Blame modern life, but it turns out that sitting down all day puts you at higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke, the Daily Mail reports.

A study has found that for every hour each day an adult spends sitting down during their life, the likelihood of developing heart disease goes up by 14 per cent. And experts warn a session at the gym won’t repair the damage because any increase in fitness from an hour’s exercise is undone by several hours of sitting.

The study, presented at the American College of Cardiology in San Diego, California, adds to evidence of the damage caused by sedentary lifestyles.

Read more on the Daily Mail website: click here

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