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Amazon Alexa offering NHS health advice

People will be able to get expert health advice using Amazon Alexa devices, under a partnership with the NHS, the government has announced.

From this week, the voice-assisted technology is automatically searching the official NHS website when UK users ask for health-related advice.

The government in England said it could reduce demand on the NHS.

Privacy campaigners have raised data protection concerns but Amazon say all information will be kept confidential.

The partnership was first announced last year and now talks are under way with other companies, including Microsoft, to set up similar arrangements.

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NHS waiting list hits record high amid pensions row

The number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England has hit a record high of 4.39 million, NHS figures show.

It comes amid an escalating row between the government and doctors over pensions.

Consultants have started refusing to do overtime shifts because they are being landed with large tax bills after changes to the way the pension system works.

The figures are fresh evidence of the impact on patients of the stand-off.

The total waiting for treatment in May is the highest since records began in 2007.

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Pledge to end smoking in England by 2030

The government is pledging to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.

Promoting physical activity, developing guidelines on sleep and targeting those at risk of diabetes are also set out as priorities in the green paper.

The policy document aims to reduce the number of years spent in poor health.

Currently men and women spend over a fifth of their lives in ill health - 19 years for women and 16 for men.

Those in deprived areas experience the longest periods of poor health.

The green paper, which will now be consulted on, proposes a number of ways of tackling this.

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