In brief

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 31 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:240

Medical profession supports new training organisation for England: The Joint Medical Consultative Council, which includes representatives from the BMA and the medical royal colleges, has agreed unanimously to support the creation of a new national organisation, NHS Medical Education England, to oversee the funding and provision of medical education and training.

Deaths after experimental probiotics to be investigated: The Netherlands Healthcare Inspectorate is looking into an apparent increase in mortality in a trial of an experimental probiotic treatment for acute pancreatitis. Of 152 patients who were given probiotics 24 died (16%), whereas nine of 144 patients (6%) in the placebo group died (relative risk 2.5 (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 5.3)), in the Utrecht University Medical Centre’s randomised, double blind trial.

Medical students report poor sex lives: Many medical students are dissatisfied with their sex lives, a survey at the University of California at San Francisco has found (Journal of Sexual Medicine 2008 Jan 15 doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00744.x). The results showed that 28% of male students were dissatisfied with their sex lives, 30% had erectile dysfunction, and 6% had low sex desire. Two thirds of female medical students (63%) were at high risk of sexual dysfunction.

More people quit after English smoking ban: The number of people who quit smoking through the NHS stop smoking services in England between April and September last year, during which the ban on smoking in public places came into force, was 28% higher than in the same period in the previous year. Nearly 165 000 smokers gave up. (See

Health output rises but productivity falls: The volume of patient services provided by the NHS rose by 50% between 1995 and 2006, or 3.8% a year, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics ( However, since health spending increased faster than output, productivity fell by an average of 1% a year.

UK research application process is streamlined: A new online system called the integrated research application system has been launched to allow researchers to use just one form to apply to seven research bodies for approval for their projects (

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