Tag Archives: says

A child’s gender can be detected in their speech from age five, research says

University of Minnesota academics say boys and girls pick up speech cues from adults around them, resulting in differences

kids playing different roles in costumes


The team also found that adults heard differences in the speech of boys who prefer male friends and traditionally ‘male’ toys compared with boys who prefer friends of the opposite sex and toys culturally associated with girls. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The gender of children can be picked up from their speech from as young as five years old, researchers have revealed.

While male and female children have no physiological reason for sounding different before puberty, when changes to the larynx kick in, researchers say boys and girls pick up telltale speech cues from adults around them, resulting in perceptible differences in their speech.

The team also found that adults heard differences in the speech of boys who prefer male friends and traditionally “male” toys compared with boys who prefer friends of the opposite sex and toys culturally associated with girls. Some of the boys in the latter group had received a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) based on behaviours such as playing with toys traditionally associated with girls, or wanting to wear female clothes or be called by a female name. Gender dysphoria, the currently used term, is now diagnosed only when such behaviour is distressing to the child.

“Even as young as five years of age, those boys are rated as sounding less prototypically boy-like than the boys without the diagnosis, and they are rated as sounding more girl-like” said Prof Ben Munson from the University of Minnesota, who is presenting the work at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.

The findings are based on research by Munson and colleagues involving 96 children aged between five and 13, who were recorded saying particular words. The team asked adults to listen to the recordings, and rate them on a six point scale as to whether the voices sounded more male or female.

Looking at 28 children without a GID diagnosis, the results reveal that on average boys and girls differed by about one point on the scale for comparable ages. What’s more, on average a difference of about a third of a point was seen between boys with and without a diagnosis, with 25 boys in each group.

Delving deeper using computer software to analyse the speech sounds, the team found that besides perhaps more obvious acoustic factors such as pitch, the way in which children pronounced an “s” appeared to be linked to whether listeners thought the voice was that of a boy or girl.

The team found that adults rated boys who pronounced an “s” in a very crisp, hyper-correct manner as sounding less prototypically boy-like.

“This makes sense because that is the very same ‘s’ that is characteristic of gay male speech styles in the adult population,” said Munson, drawing on something he had identified in previous research.

But the team also found that boys who pronounced an “s” with a lisp were also considered to sound less prototypically boy-like.

That, said Munson, was surprising.

“We never see [that pronunciation] in adult men in gay populations or really in adult men very much at all, or women for that matter,” he said . “But what we do find is that they are very prevalent in stereotypical portrayal of gay men’s speech.”

Munson suggests the findings could help researchers understand where the lisp stereotype comes from, although he noted that the study was based on a self-selected sample of children.

“Perhaps the reason that we see a higher incidence of the [lisp] in these kids is because the parents were troubled by it because the parents themselves had this stereotype in their minds,” he said.

The team say that when they looked to see which boys were making which pronunciations, they found boys with the GID diagnosis were indeed more likely to pronounce an “s” sound either with a lisp or in a hyper-correct manner, with the former more common in younger boys and the latter more common when the boys were older.

Munson said the study pushed back against traditional theories of language acquisition that, until recently, have suggested that early in life children do not select who they try to copy, but come up with an average of what they have listened to.

“It is evidence that children are picking and choosing among the people they encounter during language acquisition and that they are coming to emulate those people,” he said.

“The take-home message is language variation is pervasive. Seemingly subtle variation in language can convey social meanings learnt from a very early age,” he added.

While Munson said gender dysphoria/GID is a good predictor of who is going to grow up to be a adult gay man, he rejected concerns that speech traits in childhood could be used to predict future sexual orientation, noting there are no long term studies in the area.

Instead, he said, understanding why children pick up sounds from certain people could help researchers aid children who have difficulties learning language.

Ultra-processed foods may be linked to cancer, says study

Findings suggest increased consumption of ultra-processed foods tied to rise in cancers, but scientists say more research is needed

Ultra-processed foods can include noodles, ready meals, cakes and confectionery which contain additives, preservatives, flavourings and colourings – and often high levels of sugar, fat and salt.


Ultra-processed foods can include noodles, ready meals, cakes and confectionery which contain additives, preservatives, flavourings and colourings – and often high levels of sugar, fat and salt. Photograph: Premier Foods/PA

“Ultra-processed” foods, made in factories with ingredients unknown to the domestic kitchen, may be linked to cancer, according to a large and groundbreaking study.

Ultra-processed foods include pot noodles, shelf-stable ready meals, cakes and confectionery which contain long lists of additives, preservatives, flavourings and colourings – as well as often high levels of sugar, fat and salt. They now account for half of all the food bought by families eating at home in the UK, as the Guardian recently revealed.

A team, led by researchers based at the Sorbonne in Paris, looked at the medical records and eating habits of nearly 105,000 adults who are part of the French NutriNet-Santé cohort study, registering their usual intake of 3,300 different food items.

They found that a 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods in the diet was linked to a 12% increase in cancers of some kind. The researchers also looked to see whether there were increases in specific types of cancer and found a rise of 11% in breast cancer, although no significant upturn in colorectal or prostate cancer.

“If confirmed in other populations and settings, these results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades,” says the paper in the British Medical Journal.

France is one of the few countries that already specifically warns its people against high levels of ultra-processed foods in the diet on “the precautionary principle”, said Mathilde Touvier, lead author of the study. The foods have already been linked to obesity, but the association with cancer is new.

“The results are very strong – very consistent and quite compelling,” she said. “But we have to be cautious. It is the first study. We should not be alarmist. These results need to be confirmed in other prospective studies.”

Ultra-processed food is a definition created by a group of scientists led by Prof Carlos Monteiro in Brazil, a country which also has national dietary guidelines urging they be eaten as little as possible. The classification system, called Nova, puts foods into four groups – raw or minimally processed foods including seeds, fruit, eggs and milk; processed culinary ingredients such as oils and butter; processed foods including bottled vegetables and canned fish and cheeses; and ultra-processed, which are “formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives”.

Critics of ultra-processed foods say the processing strips out most of the nutrients, but Touvier says they do not believe the low nutritional value of biscuits and sweets and cakes are the cause of the raised cancer risk they saw. “We did a statistical analysis to try to see if the whole association was only due to poor nutritional quality,” she said. “But the results do not depend on that.”

She said they needed to do more research to figure out whether any rise in cancer is down to the high load of sugar, fat and salt or possibly the additives. “We need to understand the mechanism,” she said. “Maybe in the future we will have an idea whether one or two molecules are the problem and not all the ultra-processed foods.”

Her team now have a massive database of all the additives in specific foods, by commercial names and brands. Over the years to come, she said, “we will be able to quantify the chronic exposure [of people] to the food additives”. They will be able to study their effects alone and in combination with other additives, she believes, to find out whether there is “a cocktail effect”.

Other scientists questioned whether it was practical to group foods as ultra-processed. “The term ultra-processed food is difficult to define in terms of food quality, and is not widely used by nutritional scientists,” said Tom Sanders, professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London. “From a nutritional standpoint, this classification seems arbitrary and based on the premise that food produced industrially has a different nutritional and chemical composition from that produced in the home or by artisans. This is not the case.

“The approach of categorising dietary patterns that depend on industrially processed food in relation to disease risk is novel but probably needs refining before it can be translated into practical dietary advice.”

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation said they were proud of the industry’s track record on reformulation “but recognise that obesity and diet-related diseases are a complex and serious issue and more needs to be done. We believe a whole diet and lifestyle approach, which includes consideration of net calorie intake, and not just the role of individual nutrients or ingredients, is the correct way to tackle such issues.

“Processed food should not be demonised – by working closely with our partners throughout the food supply chain, we can use processing positively to ensure all sectors of society have access to safe, affordable food.”

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “A lot of research has limitations and the scientists here are honest enough to acknowledge that theirs needs more work to be conclusive. But there is no smoke without fire: we should heed their fears – and read food labels more carefully. Huge quantities of everyday processed food have excessive levels of sugar, fat and salt stuffed in them and it’s all listed on the packaging.”

More nurses needed to avoid new Mid Staffs-style scandal, says RCN

Nursing body says government has failed to learn lessons and increase staffing levels

Nurses' protest


Nurses and their supporters protest outside parliament in September last year. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

More nurses are needed to prevent another scandal similar to that at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust, in which poor care was blamed for patient deaths, nursing leaders have said.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says government attempts to increase the number of trainee nurses are not working and that care failings are becoming more likely.

Janet Davies, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, said: “The staffing crisis must be stopped from spiralling further … Five years after the warnings and lessons in the Mid Staffs report, the government is still squandering the chance to address the issue – making care failings more likely, not less.”

Between 400 to 1,200 patients died as a result of poor care between January 2005 and March 2009 at Stafford hospital. The Francis report examined care quality at the trust and the many reasons why it was so substandard.

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Nurses’ leaders called for an urgent national campaign and greater incentives for graduates in other subjects and those already working in the NHS to move into nursing. “The government knows that when there aren’t enough nurses, patients can pay the very highest price,” Davies said.

Her warning comes as the RCN publishes Left to Chance, a report that includes Ucas data showing a second decline in applications this year.

Changes to the funding of nurses’ training, including the removal of the student bursary, were announced in 2015. Ministers repeatedly announced extra training places last year but did not find enough students to fill them, the analysis shows. Seven hundred fewer students began training last year after the education overhaul.

The number of applications for the next academic year has fallen by 33% since the from 43,720 to 29,390 in two years.

The RCN said the nursing workforce was shrinking, with at least 40,000 NHS vacancies in England. It said ministers must encourage would-be students to apply before the summer in order to increase numbers in 2021.

The new nursing apprenticeship attracted only 30 trainees against a government target of 1,000 for 2017. The RCN said the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) should cover the costs of the apprenticeship model to encourage greater uptake by NHS employers who deliver the course.

Brexit was noted as an added reason for Britain to train its own nurses and rely less on “expensive and challenging international recruitment”.

Davies said: “Nursing is now a graduate profession, but it lacks a graduate salary that compensates for the fees paid. With fair pay and other incentives, ministers must redouble efforts to get students into nursing courses this year.”

The report also calls for the introduction of a comprehensive and long-term workforce strategy, and for safe staffing levels and accountability for planning and provision to be written into law.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Our priority is getting more nurses on our wards, which is why we have increased the number of nurse training places available by 25%, allowing more people to study nursing than ever before.

“Any decrease in the number of applications must be seen in the context of this significant increase in the number of nursing places available, and places remain oversubscribed.”

Hot or not? Bikram no more beneficial than any other yoga, says vascular study

Yoga could help to improve function of artery linings regardless of room temperature, researchers conclude

Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises.


Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Photograph: Karen Yeomans/PR

While the popularity of practising yoga in sweltering rooms is booming around the world, researchers say benefits to blood vessels are the same whether the moves are performed in the heat or not.

Bikram yoga was founded by controversial instructor Bikram Choudhury and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to just over 40C (104F).

Having first taken off in the 1970s, Bikram yoga classes are now widespread, with some research suggesting they could offer health benefits including improving the function of the inner lining of blood vessels – problems with which are linked to increased risk of fatty plaques building up inside arteries.

But now researchers say the potential vascular benefits of Bikram are not down to the heat.

“The postures and the breathing exercises are enough in the absence of the heated environment to elicit some beneficial adaptations that could reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Dr Stacey Hunter, co-author of the research from Texas State University and research director for yoga-promoting organisation Pure Action Inc, which funded the study.

It is not the first time that yoga has been linked to health benefits, with previous studies suggesting it could be as good as cycling or a brisk walk in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example.

However little work has gone into unpicking the impact of different types of yoga, some of which are more intense that others, or how much yoga is needed for benefits to be seen.

Writing in the journal Experimental Physiology, Hunter and colleagues describe how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged adults to one of three groups. While 19 participants carried on as usual, 14 undertook 12 weeks of three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature and 19 participants undertook Bikram classes at 40.5C.

A range of measurements were taken as part of the study including weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ability for the main artery in the forearm to dilate in response to increased blood flow – a measure of the function of the inner blood vessel lining.

The results reveal that while both yoga groups showed improvements in function of their artery lining, the size of the benefits was the same regardless of the temperature of the classes. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvements.

No significant effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood lipids, weight or blood glucose was seen for any of the groups, but the team note that those undertaking hot yoga showed a small drop in body fat, possibly due to extra energy being used.

Paulus Kirchhof, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Birmingham, said that, generally speaking, the impact of yoga on health was not yet clear.

“Yoga, similar to other behaviours, can help to improve vascular health. Whether yoga per se is particularly effective to reduce blood pressure, or whether yoga has similar effects as regular physical exercise [for example], is less clear,” he said, adding that he would advise people undertake the recommended 30-45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, with yoga as an optional addition.

Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said previous studies had shown some improvements in measures including blood pressure and cholesterol, but that high temperatures could be dangerous for those with underlying heart conditions.

“This study, although interesting, is a very small study and has significant limitations, so more research would be needed to confirm the findings,” she told the Guardian.

But that doesn’t mean people should roll up their mats. “The benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established and any physical activities that can help reduce our risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke should be encouraged,” said Ward.

Hot or not? Bikram no more beneficial than any other yoga, says vascular study

Yoga could help to improve function of artery linings regardless of room temperature, researchers conclude

Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises.


Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Photograph: Karen Yeomans/PR

While the popularity of practising yoga in sweltering rooms is booming around the world, researchers say benefits to blood vessels are the same whether the moves are performed in the heat or not.

Bikram yoga was founded by controversial instructor Bikram Choudhury and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to just over 40C (104F).

Having first taken off in the 1970s, Bikram yoga classes are now widespread, with some research suggesting they could offer health benefits including improving the function of the inner lining of blood vessels – problems with which are linked to increased risk of fatty plaques building up inside arteries.

But now researchers say the potential vascular benefits of Bikram are not down to the heat.

“The postures and the breathing exercises are enough in the absence of the heated environment to elicit some beneficial adaptations that could reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Dr Stacey Hunter, co-author of the research from Texas State University and research director for yoga-promoting organisation Pure Action Inc, which funded the study.

It is not the first time that yoga has been linked to health benefits, with previous studies suggesting it could be as good as cycling or a brisk walk in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example.

However little work has gone into unpicking the impact of different types of yoga, some of which are more intense that others, or how much yoga is needed for benefits to be seen.

Writing in the journal Experimental Physiology, Hunter and colleagues describe how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged adults to one of three groups. While 19 participants carried on as usual, 14 undertook 12 weeks of three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature and 19 participants undertook Bikram classes at 40.5C.

A range of measurements were taken as part of the study including weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ability for the main artery in the forearm to dilate in response to increased blood flow – a measure of the function of the inner blood vessel lining.

The results reveal that while both yoga groups showed improvements in function of their artery lining, the size of the benefits was the same regardless of the temperature of the classes. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvements.

No significant effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood lipids, weight or blood glucose was seen for any of the groups, but the team note that those undertaking hot yoga showed a small drop in body fat, possibly due to extra energy being used.

Paulus Kirchhof, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Birmingham, said that, generally speaking, the impact of yoga on health was not yet clear.

“Yoga, similar to other behaviours, can help to improve vascular health. Whether yoga per se is particularly effective to reduce blood pressure, or whether yoga has similar effects as regular physical exercise [for example], is less clear,” he said, adding that he would advise people undertake the recommended 30-45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, with yoga as an optional addition.

Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said previous studies had shown some improvements in measures including blood pressure and cholesterol, but that high temperatures could be dangerous for those with underlying heart conditions.

“This study, although interesting, is a very small study and has significant limitations, so more research would be needed to confirm the findings,” she told the Guardian.

But that doesn’t mean people should roll up their mats. “The benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established and any physical activities that can help reduce our risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke should be encouraged,” said Ward.

Hot or not? Bikram no more beneficial than any other yoga, says vascular study

Yoga could help to improve function of artery linings regardless of room temperature, researchers conclude

Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises.


Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Photograph: Karen Yeomans/PR

While the popularity of practising yoga in sweltering rooms is booming around the world, researchers say benefits to blood vessels are the same whether the moves are performed in the heat or not.

Bikram yoga was founded by controversial instructor Bikram Choudhury and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to just over 40C (104F).

Having first taken off in the 1970s, Bikram yoga classes are now widespread, with some research suggesting they could offer health benefits including improving the function of the inner lining of blood vessels – problems with which are linked to increased risk of fatty plaques building up inside arteries.

But now researchers say the potential vascular benefits of Bikram are not down to the heat.

“The postures and the breathing exercises are enough in the absence of the heated environment to elicit some beneficial adaptations that could reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Dr Stacey Hunter, co-author of the research from Texas State University and research director for yoga-promoting organisation Pure Action Inc, which funded the study.

It is not the first time that yoga has been linked to health benefits, with previous studies suggesting it could be as good as cycling or a brisk walk in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example.

However little work has gone into unpicking the impact of different types of yoga, some of which are more intense that others, or how much yoga is needed for benefits to be seen.

Writing in the journal Experimental Physiology, Hunter and colleagues describe how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged adults to one of three groups. While 19 participants carried on as usual, 14 undertook 12 weeks of three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature and 19 participants undertook Bikram classes at 40.5C.

A range of measurements were taken as part of the study including weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ability for the main artery in the forearm to dilate in response to increased blood flow – a measure of the function of the inner blood vessel lining.

The results reveal that while both yoga groups showed improvements in function of their artery lining, the size of the benefits was the same regardless of the temperature of the classes. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvements.

No significant effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood lipids, weight or blood glucose was seen for any of the groups, but the team note that those undertaking hot yoga showed a small drop in body fat, possibly due to extra energy being used.

Paulus Kirchhof, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Birmingham, said that, generally speaking, the impact of yoga on health was not yet clear.

“Yoga, similar to other behaviours, can help to improve vascular health. Whether yoga per se is particularly effective to reduce blood pressure, or whether yoga has similar effects as regular physical exercise [for example], is less clear,” he said, adding that he would advise people undertake the recommended 30-45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, with yoga as an optional addition.

Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said previous studies had shown some improvements in measures including blood pressure and cholesterol, but that high temperatures could be dangerous for those with underlying heart conditions.

“This study, although interesting, is a very small study and has significant limitations, so more research would be needed to confirm the findings,” she told the Guardian.

But that doesn’t mean people should roll up their mats. “The benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established and any physical activities that can help reduce our risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke should be encouraged,” said Ward.

Hot or not? Bikram no more beneficial than any other yoga, says vascular study

Yoga could help to improve function of artery linings regardless of room temperature, researchers conclude

Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises.


Bikram yoga is performed in a studio heated to 40.5C and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Photograph: Karen Yeomans/PR

While the popularity of practising yoga in sweltering rooms is booming around the world, researchers say benefits to blood vessels are the same whether the moves are performed in the heat or not.

Bikram yoga was founded by controversial instructor Bikram Choudhury and involves 26 poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to just over 40C (104F).

Having first taken off in the 1970s, Bikram yoga classes are now widespread, with some research suggesting they could offer health benefits including improving the function of the inner lining of blood vessels – problems with which are linked to increased risk of fatty plaques building up inside arteries.

But now researchers say the potential vascular benefits of Bikram are not down to the heat.

“The postures and the breathing exercises are enough in the absence of the heated environment to elicit some beneficial adaptations that could reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Dr Stacey Hunter, co-author of the research from Texas State University and research director for yoga-promoting organisation Pure Action Inc, which funded the study.

It is not the first time that yoga has been linked to health benefits, with previous studies suggesting it could be as good as cycling or a brisk walk in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example.

However little work has gone into unpicking the impact of different types of yoga, some of which are more intense that others, or how much yoga is needed for benefits to be seen.

Writing in the journal Experimental Physiology, Hunter and colleagues describe how they randomly assigned healthy but sedentary middle-aged adults to one of three groups. While 19 participants carried on as usual, 14 undertook 12 weeks of three 90-minute Bikram classes at room temperature and 19 participants undertook Bikram classes at 40.5C.

A range of measurements were taken as part of the study including weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ability for the main artery in the forearm to dilate in response to increased blood flow – a measure of the function of the inner blood vessel lining.

The results reveal that while both yoga groups showed improvements in function of their artery lining, the size of the benefits was the same regardless of the temperature of the classes. Those who did not do yoga showed no improvements.

No significant effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood lipids, weight or blood glucose was seen for any of the groups, but the team note that those undertaking hot yoga showed a small drop in body fat, possibly due to extra energy being used.

Paulus Kirchhof, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Birmingham, said that, generally speaking, the impact of yoga on health was not yet clear.

“Yoga, similar to other behaviours, can help to improve vascular health. Whether yoga per se is particularly effective to reduce blood pressure, or whether yoga has similar effects as regular physical exercise [for example], is less clear,” he said, adding that he would advise people undertake the recommended 30-45 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, with yoga as an optional addition.

Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said previous studies had shown some improvements in measures including blood pressure and cholesterol, but that high temperatures could be dangerous for those with underlying heart conditions.

“This study, although interesting, is a very small study and has significant limitations, so more research would be needed to confirm the findings,” she told the Guardian.

But that doesn’t mean people should roll up their mats. “The benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established and any physical activities that can help reduce our risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke should be encouraged,” said Ward.

Family doctors working ‘beyond safe levels’, says GPs’ leader

As doctors describe dealing with up to 70 patients a day, college warns of risks to public health

Waiting room of GP practice


Patients face longer waits to see a GP, says the Patients Association. Photograph: Alamy


GPs across Britain are working above safe levels because of relentless and unmanageable workloads, leading doctors have warned.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said that family doctors were “regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients”, potentially jeopardising their own health and wellbeing.

Her comments were made in response to a survey by GP magazine Pulse. It heard from 900 GPs across the UK and found that each deals with 41 patients a day. The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), a leading forum of European family doctors, has said that seeing around 25 patients is safe.

The Pulse poll found that one in five family doctors (20%) deal with 50 daily patient contacts, which include face-to-face and telephone consultations, home visits and e-consultations. Some GPs told Pulse they have 70 contacts a day.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs expect to be busy, and we are making more consultations than ever before as we strive to deliver the best possible care to all our patients who need it. But the workload at the moment is relentless and it’s taking its toll.”

One doctor, who reluctantly left a career carrying out 13- to 14-hour days as a partner for a more manageable workload as a salaried GP and 31 to 40 daily contacts, told Pulse: “I felt I was at a risk of making mistakes and causing potential harm to my patients and my career.”

Another spoke of one exceptional “horrendous” Monday where he had 71 contacts. Since then the practice has since increased the number of on-call doctors on Mondays to three.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said the survey backed up what the college has been saying for years – that many GPs are regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients.

It was not necessarily the number of consultations, but the content of those consultations, she added. “Our patients are increasingly presenting with more complex, chronic conditions, many of which require much longer than the standard 10-minute appointment,” she said.

“Our workload needs to be addressed – it has risen at least 16% over the last seven years,” she added. “Yet the share of the overall NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association general practitioners committee chair, said: “We know that an unmanageable and unsafe workload is the primary reason behind doctors leaving general practice, which is leading to serious issues including practices closing to new patients and other surgeries closing entirely. This workload pressure also means GPs are increasingly suffering from burnout and patients are being put at risk of unsafe care.”

He urged the government to work with the BMA to come up with a longterm solution “to ensure the needs of a growing population with increasingly complex conditions can be met safely on the front line”.

Patients’ groups and MPs also expressed concern at the findings. Liz McAnulty, chair of the Patients Association, said: “We have gone past the point where efficiencies can be found, and firmly into territory where GPs’ workloads are unsustainable and where patients face growing waits to access GPs and greater risks to their safety.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Royal College’s warning should serve as an urgent wake-up call to ministers. “The truth is, since 2010 years of severe underfunding of our NHS has left general practice squeezed with tired, overworked and overstretched GPs. We have lost 1,000 GPs in the past year.”

Family doctors working ‘beyond safe levels’, says GPs’ leader

As doctors describe dealing with up to 70 patients a day, college warns of risks to public health

Waiting room of GP practice


Patients face longer waits to see a GP, says the Patients Association. Photograph: Alamy


GPs across Britain are working above safe levels because of relentless and unmanageable workloads, leading doctors have warned.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said that family doctors were “regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients”, potentially jeopardising their own health and wellbeing.

Her comments were made in response to a survey by GP magazine Pulse. It heard from 900 GPs across the UK and found that each deals with 41 patients a day. The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), a leading forum of European family doctors, has said that seeing around 25 patients is safe.

The Pulse poll found that one in five family doctors (20%) deal with 50 daily patient contacts, which include face-to-face and telephone consultations, home visits and e-consultations. Some GPs told Pulse they have 70 contacts a day.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs expect to be busy, and we are making more consultations than ever before as we strive to deliver the best possible care to all our patients who need it. But the workload at the moment is relentless and it’s taking its toll.”

One doctor, who reluctantly left a career carrying out 13- to 14-hour days as a partner for a more manageable workload as a salaried GP and 31 to 40 daily contacts, told Pulse: “I felt I was at a risk of making mistakes and causing potential harm to my patients and my career.”

Another spoke of one exceptional “horrendous” Monday where he had 71 contacts. Since then the practice has since increased the number of on-call doctors on Mondays to three.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said the survey backed up what the college has been saying for years – that many GPs are regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients.

It was not necessarily the number of consultations, but the content of those consultations, she added. “Our patients are increasingly presenting with more complex, chronic conditions, many of which require much longer than the standard 10-minute appointment,” she said.

“Our workload needs to be addressed – it has risen at least 16% over the last seven years,” she added. “Yet the share of the overall NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association general practitioners committee chair, said: “We know that an unmanageable and unsafe workload is the primary reason behind doctors leaving general practice, which is leading to serious issues including practices closing to new patients and other surgeries closing entirely. This workload pressure also means GPs are increasingly suffering from burnout and patients are being put at risk of unsafe care.”

He urged the government to work with the BMA to come up with a longterm solution “to ensure the needs of a growing population with increasingly complex conditions can be met safely on the front line”.

Patients’ groups and MPs also expressed concern at the findings. Liz McAnulty, chair of the Patients Association, said: “We have gone past the point where efficiencies can be found, and firmly into territory where GPs’ workloads are unsustainable and where patients face growing waits to access GPs and greater risks to their safety.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Royal College’s warning should serve as an urgent wake-up call to ministers. “The truth is, since 2010 years of severe underfunding of our NHS has left general practice squeezed with tired, overworked and overstretched GPs. We have lost 1,000 GPs in the past year.”

Family doctors working ‘beyond safe levels’, says GPs’ leader

As doctors describe dealing with up to 70 patients a day, college warns of risks to public health

Waiting room of GP practice


Patients face longer waits to see a GP, says the Patients Association. Photograph: Alamy


GPs across Britain are working above safe levels because of relentless and unmanageable workloads, leading doctors have warned.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said that family doctors were “regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients”, potentially jeopardising their own health and wellbeing.

Her comments were made in response to a survey by GP magazine Pulse. It heard from 900 GPs across the UK and found that each deals with 41 patients a day. The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), a leading forum of European family doctors, has said that seeing around 25 patients is safe.

The Pulse poll found that one in five family doctors (20%) deal with 50 daily patient contacts, which include face-to-face and telephone consultations, home visits and e-consultations. Some GPs told Pulse they have 70 contacts a day.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs expect to be busy, and we are making more consultations than ever before as we strive to deliver the best possible care to all our patients who need it. But the workload at the moment is relentless and it’s taking its toll.”

One doctor, who reluctantly left a career carrying out 13- to 14-hour days as a partner for a more manageable workload as a salaried GP and 31 to 40 daily contacts, told Pulse: “I felt I was at a risk of making mistakes and causing potential harm to my patients and my career.”

Another spoke of one exceptional “horrendous” Monday where he had 71 contacts. Since then the practice has since increased the number of on-call doctors on Mondays to three.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said the survey backed up what the college has been saying for years – that many GPs are regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients.

It was not necessarily the number of consultations, but the content of those consultations, she added. “Our patients are increasingly presenting with more complex, chronic conditions, many of which require much longer than the standard 10-minute appointment,” she said.

“Our workload needs to be addressed – it has risen at least 16% over the last seven years,” she added. “Yet the share of the overall NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association general practitioners committee chair, said: “We know that an unmanageable and unsafe workload is the primary reason behind doctors leaving general practice, which is leading to serious issues including practices closing to new patients and other surgeries closing entirely. This workload pressure also means GPs are increasingly suffering from burnout and patients are being put at risk of unsafe care.”

He urged the government to work with the BMA to come up with a longterm solution “to ensure the needs of a growing population with increasingly complex conditions can be met safely on the front line”.

Patients’ groups and MPs also expressed concern at the findings. Liz McAnulty, chair of the Patients Association, said: “We have gone past the point where efficiencies can be found, and firmly into territory where GPs’ workloads are unsustainable and where patients face growing waits to access GPs and greater risks to their safety.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Royal College’s warning should serve as an urgent wake-up call to ministers. “The truth is, since 2010 years of severe underfunding of our NHS has left general practice squeezed with tired, overworked and overstretched GPs. We have lost 1,000 GPs in the past year.”