• BBC News

    Why is flu so bad this year?

    Flu comes along every winter, but how many people it will infect - and just how poorly they will be - is incredibly difficult to predict. What makes one flu outbreak worse than another? After Australia experienced its worst flu season in more than a decade, it was widely expected that the arrival of winter would see more people than usual fall ill in the UK. That's exactly what has happened: this flu season is the worst for seven years. The latest figures show a 40% increase in the number of people going to GPs in England with suspected flu in the last week. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have also recorded increases. Things are not expected to improve in the coming weeks - the UK has a

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    Cancer blood test ‘enormously exciting’

    Scientists have taken a step towards one of the biggest goals in medicine - a universal blood test for cancer. A team at Johns Hopkins University has trialled a method that detects eight common forms of the disease. Their vision is an annual test designed to catch cancer early and save lives. UK experts said it was "enormously exciting". However, one said more work was needed to assess the test's effectiveness at detecting early-stage cancers. Tumours release tiny traces of their mutated DNA and proteins they make into the bloodstream. The CancerSEEK test looks for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer and eight proteins that are often released. It was trialled on 1,005 patients

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    Dolores O'Riordan inquest awaits tests

    The inquest into the death of Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan has been adjourned while the coroner awaits the results of "various tests". The inquest, at Westminster Coroner's Court, has been adjourned until 3 April. The singer died suddenly on 15 January aged 46. The Irish musician, originally from Limerick, led the band to international success in the 90s with singles including Linger and Zombie. Coroner's officer Stephen Earl said: "This lady was staying at a hotel in central London when she was found unresponsive in her room. "The London Ambulance Service was contacted and verified her death at the scene. "Subsequently the Met Police attended and they determined the death to be non-suspicious."

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    Why Fast & Furious is going from screen to stage

    Your average Friday night probably doesn't involve high-speed car chases, a submarine explosion and a fuel tanker catching on fire. We hope not, anyway. But that's exactly what fans of Fast & Furious are expecting when the first ever live incarnation of the franchise premieres in London later. The live show is an extension of the film series - but rather than being a recreation or continuation of the timeline of the films, it takes on a whole new narrative. "We have new characters that you meet at the beginning, and they have their own new storyline," explains creative director and executive producer Rowland French. "So we've been able to dig into the world of Fast & Furious, and it's a journey

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    A Year in Provence author Peter Mayle dies

    Author Peter Mayle, who wrote A Year in Provence, has died aged 78, his publisher has said. The 1989 international bestselling book, which chronicled Mayle's move from England to France, was turned into a TV series and inspired a 2006 film. He wrote follow-ups Toujours Provence and Encore Provence, as well as educational and children's books. Publisher Alfred A Knopf said he died in a hospital near his home in the south of France after a short illness. 'Beloved writer' In a statement on Twitter, Knopf said: "We are sad to report that Peter Mayle, the beloved writer who wrote multiple bestselling books about life in Provence, died early today." Mayle moved from Devon to France in the late 1980s

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    NHS bail-outs 'could become new normal'

    Repeated bail-outs to help the NHS cope with pressure on services and finances could become the "new normal", the National Audit Office has said. It comes after the auditor found NHS bodies used extra funds partly intended to transform services to shore up finances during 2016-17. The NAO said short-term funding had impeded necessary changes to the NHS. The government said the report showed the NHS had made "significant progress towards balancing the books". 'Short-term funding boosts' The NHS received a one-off payment of £1.8bn, known as the Sustainability and Transformation Fund, in 2016-17 to help it cope with reduced funding from 2017-18 onwards and to allow it to transform services. The

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    Music industry hails housing noise victory

    The music industry is hailing a major victory after ministers vowed to change planning rules in England to protect venues from complaints about noise. Stars including Sir Paul McCartney warned venues forced to pay for soundproofing neighbouring properties could be driven out of business. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the rule, which applies to new housing schemes, was an "unfair burden". And he said the government would "right this wrong". Developers will now have to address noise issues if they opt to build homes near a long-established venue. Industry bodies have said that under current laws, venues are facing "an avalanche of cases" in which residents of new developments were complaining