In brief

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 30 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2785

Scottish doctors can refuse role in abortions: Conscientious objectors to abortion can refuse to delegate, supervise, or support staff carrying out terminations, as well as refusing to perform terminations themselves, three appeal judges in Scotland have ruled. The judges at the Court of Session Inner House (Scotland’s court for civil appeals) ruled in favour of two Catholic midwives in a judgment that also applies to doctors.

Inequality in breast cancer diagnosis costs lives: If breast cancer in women living in England’s poor areas was diagnosed at the same stage as that in women in affluent areas, 450 more women every year would survive five years with the disease, researchers have shown.1 They analysed data on 20 738 women with complete stage information from the east of England and extrapolated the findings to the whole of England. Martine Bomb, head of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said, “More needs to be done to tackle this inequality to ensure everyone has the same chance of surviving breast cancer, no matter where they live.”

Inspections start of hospital trusts with higher than expected mortality: Teams of doctors, nurses, and patients’ representatives are set to visit the 14 trusts in England whose mortality ratios have been higher than expected for the past two years,2 starting on 7 May. The inspections are the prime minister’s response to part of Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into the Mid Staffs scandal and are being led by the medical director of the NHS, Bruce Keogh.3 Teams will observe the hospital in action for two to three days and take part in meetings with patients, members of the public, and staff. There will also be unannounced visits.

Taiwan reports case of H7N9 avian flu: A 54 year old man who had returned to Taiwan from Jiangsu province was confirmed on 24 April as the first human case of H7N9 avian flu outside mainland China. Since the first infections were announced on 31 March, China has confirmed 108 cases and 22 deaths. Hong Kong has announced that it is to step up screening of visitors at its border ahead of the May day holiday week, when thousands of mainland Chinese visitors are expected to arrive.

Practice manager is jailed for fraud: A general practice manager in Manchester who defrauded her employer of £150 000 (€180 000; $230 000) has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after an investigation supported by NHS Protect. Alison Westley, 62, was employed first at the Archwood Medical Practice, Woodley, and then at Woodley Health Centre, Hyde Road, after a merger. She created large numbers of fictitious invoices to the practice, had been consistently paying herself an inflated salary and overtime payments, and drew cheques made payable to herself from practice accounts.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2785