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Friday five: top stories of the week

Our final Friday five of 2017 sees the department of health gender pay gap, a baby born from a 24-year old embryo and the smoking ban in prison dominate the news.

Department of Health releases report on gender pay gap

A new report published by the Department of Health (DH) reveals that women working in the department earn up to 14 per cent less than men an hour. Women make up two thirds of the DH workforce, and make up 80 per cent of staff in the lower pay brackets. Public Health England, a DH agency, has the worst pay gap with women earning an average of 16% less than men.

Read more on HSJ (£)

Baby born from embryo frozen 24 years ago

A baby in Tennessee has been born from an embryo that was frozen 24 years ago, which is believed to be the longest gap between conception and birth since IVF began. The couple were given the embryo at the faith-based National Embryo Donation Centre, who refer to embryos such as these as “snow babies” due to the length of time they are frozen.

Read more on the BBC.

Supreme Court rules that the smoking ban cannot be enforced in prisons

The Supreme Court has ruled that the smoking ban cannot be enforced in prisons following a complaint from an inmate that communal areas were not smoke free. Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, concluded with “considerable reluctance” that the 2006 Act did not extend to government or crown sites.

Read more on the Guardian.

CRISPR treatment slows genetic hearing loss in mice

Researchers from Harvard, led by David Liu, have discovered that a one-off treatment using CRISPR genome editing has slowed progressive hearing loss in mice. The studies focused on the DFNA36 type of deafness, and researchers are able to target the specific faulty gene, whilst leaving healthy ones alone.

Read more on New Scientist.

Mother to give birth to terminally ill baby to donate organs

Hayley Martin from East Yorkshire, discovered at her 20-week scan that her unborn daughter would die during labour or shortly after birth. Ava-Joy has a rare genetic disorder, bilateral renal agenesis, and will not survive the pregnancy. Mrs Martin has opted to continue with the pregnancy to full term in order to donate her unborn daughter’s organs and tissues.

Read more on the Independent.

Quote of the week – Lord Darzi of Denham on the future of the NHS:

“The real reasons why change in the NHS is so necessary is poorly understood. The health service doesn’t need to change just because politicians say so; politically motivated change has poisoned the case for reform. The NHS needs to change because the nature of the disease burden has changed; because scientific breakthroughs have produced novel diagnostics, drugs and treatments; and because technology means we have the opportunity to work more effectively. In short, high-quality care is a constantly moving target: to stand still is to fall back. That’s why we need to revive reform.

The deadlock needs to be broken and a way through offered for patients, for NHS staff, for our economy. That’s why in the next year, I will be leading an independent review of the NHS with the independent Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). This will tackle the tough questions that politics is struggling to address. After all, I’m a doctor not a politician, and the NHS is a patient that’s in need of help.”

Read more in The Guardian

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