Friday five: our round-up of the five top health stories this week

This week breathalysing smokers before operations, organ donations and super sized chocolate bars have dominated the news.

Doctors will breathalyse smokers before NHS operations

Doctors in Hertfordshire will be breathalysing smokers before non-urgent surgery referrals to ensure they have stopped smoking. The proposals come after 85 per cent of those who responded to a public consultation agreed that smokers should be required to quit before non-urgent surgery referrals can take place. Read more on The Guardian.

Over 500 registered donors were unable to be made available for transplant due to familial blocking

BBC 5 Live has found that 505 registered donors’ families blocked organ donation because they felt the process took “too long”. The NHS wants to reduce the number of familial “overrides” by encouraging people who are registered as donors to talk to their relatives. Legally, the consent remains with the deceased, however family wishes are always respected, leaving the 6,406 currently on the UK transplant waiting list with frustrations when relatives block operations.  Read more on the BBC.

Super-sized bars of chocolate to be banned in hospitals

New rules for hospitals will see super-sized bars of chocolate; grab bags of crisps and calorific sandwiches banned from shops in hospitals. Simon Stevens, NHS England’s Chief Executive, announced the new 250-calorie cap for snacks and 400 calories for sandwiches in a bid to tackle obesity and promote healthy living. Read more on The Times (£).

Scientists claim the mind still works after death

Scientists in New York have undertaken research which claims that consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life. The study, exploring people who have suffered cardiac arrest, technically died and then were revived, discovers that patients could theoretically hear their own death being announced. Read more on The Independent.

MPs told additional 162,000 medical documents went missing

NHS officials told MPs that a further 162,000 medical documents went missing on top of the 702,000 already discovered. A full review of the undelivered and missing mail will be undertaken but will take until March to be completed, Simon Stevens told MPs this week. Read more on Digital Health.

Quote of the week – Pam Garside on the ‘perfect storm’ of care home finances:

“Four seasons is not alone… it is a very tough environment in which to run highly regulated organisations by the Care Quality Commission with a shortage of staff and declining contributions from local authorities.”

Listen to the full interview on BBC 5 Live.