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Daily digest October 6 2015

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

UK end of life care 'best in world'

End of life care in the UK has been ranked as the best in the world with a study praising the quality and availability of services.

The BBC reports how a study of 80 countries said that, thanks to the NHS and hospice movement, the care provided was ‘second to none’.

Rich nations tended to perform the best - with Australia and New Zealand ranked second and third respectively.

But the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit praised progress made in some of the poorest countries.

Read more on the BBC News website

BMA membership surges amid dispute over contracts

There has been a huge surge in the number of junior doctors joining the British Medical Association (BMA) in the wake of the row over contracts, according to the union.

The Guardian reports that between September 26 and October 5, a total of 5,451 doctors joined the BMA, bringing the membership to just under 160,000. About 80% of the new members are junior doctors.

The rise in membership comes after the BMA said it would ballot its members over possible strike action. Negotiations – including a meeting with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt – have broken down over conflict regarding working hours and pay.

The government has said it plans to impose the new contract on doctors, up to consultant level, next year.

Read more on the Guardian website

Low levels of face-to-face social contact 'can double depression risk'

Replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with emails, text messages and phone calls could double the risk of depression, a major study suggests.

Research on 11,000 adults found that those who meet friends and family at least three times a week are far less likely to suffer from depression.

Individuals who had such contact just once every few months had an 11.5% chance of later suffering from depressive symptoms two years later.

The Telegraph reports the study by the University of Michigan, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is the first to examine the impact of different types of social contact on depression.

Read more on the Telegraph website

Half an hour of exercise a day may not be enough to keep you healthy

Official advice on the minimum exercise people should do may not be enough to substantially lower the risk of heart failure, experts have warned.

Mail Online reports how the government advises that adults undertake 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

But new research suggests people may need to do twice or even four times that amount of activity to see a significant effect on their heart.

Scientists from the University of Texas analysed data from 370,000 people who had been tracked as part of 12 different studies.

Read more on the Mail Online

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