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Once again, it seems to be open season on GPs who, this time, stand accused of ‘fobbing off’ pregnant women with severe morning sickness. (Women palmed off by GPs call ambulances over morning sickness, December 18, page 10)
Today alone, over 1m patients will visit their GP surgery, and dedicated GPs and their teams are working harder than ever to try and keep up with inexorably rising patient demand at a time when we also have a severe shortage of family doctors. To charge us with not giving our patients the care they need is insulting and demoralising at a time when we need all the support we can get.
GPs are managing complex conditions in the community that even a decade ago would have been automatically referred to hospitals, thereby reducing pressures on the rest of the NHS.
GPs want to do the very best for all our patients and we are well aware of the impact that severe vomiting can have on the health of pregnant women at a time when they often feel anxious and vulnerable.
There remains only one licensed drug available to GPs to prescribe in primary care to pregnant women with vomiting, although several others are available on an unlicensed basis. Additionally, many pregnant women choose not to take any medication and will only consider it as a last resort when milder treatments have not worked, which is why some patients come back to see us several times.
The high quality care of pregnant women, and indeed all our patients, is an absolute priority. However, our family doctor service needs investment and support to keep it going, not inflammatory headlines and accusations that we are failing the very patients that we entered this profession to care for.
"Lifestyle changes should always be considered before prescribing medication to lower blood pressure, as well as in addition to it.
"But no two patients are the same and blood pressure lowering drugs save lives so, as the author of the study highlights, it is vitally important that patients do not give up their medication without the advice of their GP who will work with them to come up with the best options for managing their condition."
New tougher rules to stop counterfeit medicines could cause extra workload and IT upheaval for GPs, the BMA has warned.
She said: "We are pleased to hear that, following repeated calls by RCGP and the BMA, the Government plans to scrap the Tier 2 visa cap for skilled workers in any migration system post-Brexit, including doctors wishing to move here to meet the significant gaps in our NHS workforce.
"The removal of the cap for doctors and nurses from non-EU countries earlier this year was vital and it is encouraging to see this will continue to be part of the Government's plans post-Brexit.
"At a time when workload in general practice is escalating and our GP workforce is plummeting, despite a record number of GPs in training, we need to encourage as many highly-skilled, fully-qualified GPs to come to and then remain working in the UK as we possibly can.
"However, while this is positive news for appropriately-trained doctors and other 'skilled workers' from overseas, we are concerned that there could be a £30,000 salary cap, which would prevent other vital healthcare staff and support workers from being employed as practice nurses and other members of our wider practice teams.
"We will continue to seek clarification from the Government on this and several other aspects to the plan. We are also keen to see a reduction in the arbitrary bureaucratic barriers faced by practices and GPs within the current migration system. It is essential that Government makes the new system as straightforward and 'light touch' as possible, and we will be seeking assurances that this will be at minimal cost to GP practices.
"General practice needs all the support it can get and we urgently need to boost our workforce with more highly-skilled GPs and other healthcare professionals so that we can continue to deliver the best care possible to all our patients."
Seven-day access has now been fully rolled out across England, according to NHS England.
Seven-day access has now been fully rolled out across England, according to NHS England.
Seven-day access has now been fully rolled out across England, NHS England has announced.
GPs in Northern Ireland have been handed an ‘extra winter payment’ of £2.27m to enable them to offer more urgent appointments in the New Year.
The publication of 'Cannabis-based medicines: an interim desktop guide' follows a change in the laws governing access to cannabis for medicinal use earlier this year.
Only doctors registered on the GMC's specialist register, and who have the relevant specialist knowledge and expertise can prescribe cannabis-based products to patients in situations where there is an unmet clinical need.
Whilst GPs are not able to prescribe cannabis, the new guidance recognises that the recent legal change may lead to 'increased demand on GPs for information and referrals for a range of conditions'.
It gives an overview of the current legal situation regarding medicinal cannabis, the different forms it is available in, the conditions for which there is some, if limited, clinical evidence of benefit, and the potential side-effects of taking cannabis. The guidance also includes signposting to further resources for GPs and patients, and some FAQs.
Cannabis is a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001. However, two forms of cannabis-based products - Sativex and Nabilone - can now be legally prescribed. Cannabidiol (CBD) is also legally available as herbal supplement and is not a prescription medicine.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, said: "The decision to legalise medicinal cannabis for some patients, where there is an evidence-base that it could benefit them, is welcome.
"However, the treatments that have become legal are only able to be prescribed by specialist doctors if they have a patient with an unmet clinical need – and so it will affect a relatively small number of patients, many of whom will likely already be known by their specialist doctor.
"GPs will not be able to prescribe patients medicinal cannabis, but as the first point of contact for the vast majority of patients in the NHS it is important that we are aware of the legal situation and current clinical evidence around medicinal cannabis.
"This desktop guide aims to be a quick reference guide for GPs, providing them with the information they may need when having discussions with patients who as them about cannabis, and to make it clear to patients that GPs are not in a position to prescribe cannabis."
The number of GPs retiring before 60 has slowed down, according to the latest set of figures from the NHS pension scheme.
The public’s most common frustration in relation to GPs is the difficulty of getting an appointment quickly, a new report has found.
GPs care more about their reputation than financial incentives, according to new research.
GPs are dealing with a barrage of subject access requests since the new GDPR data protection regulations were introduced earlier this year.
GPs have been warned to check that invoices received are genuine, after a number of practices were targeted by invoice fraud scams.
Exclusive Some CCGs across the country are actively merging practices that are under the APMS contract with those that are under GMS or PMS contracts in order to remove APMS from the system, the BMA has claimed.
Responding to the election of Mark Drakeford AM as the new First Minister for Wales, RCGP Wales has called on him to 'move the dial of the health service in favour of general practice'. The First Minister previously made this statement in the Welsh Assembly.
The College has said its recent 'Transforming general practice' report should form the basis of a "much-needed package of support for general practice".
Dr Peter Saul, Royal College of General Practitioners Wales Joint Chair, said:
"The new First Minister has previously spoken of the need to 'move the dial of the health service in favour of general practice'. We look forward to him setting a strong direction as First Minister to make this a reality.
"Last week the College published 'Transforming general practice: Building a profession fit for the future'. This report was informed by our member's experiences and presents a snapshot of general practice in 2018, shining a spotlight on high levels of stress, concern about the future, and worry about financial sustainability within the profession.
"We also made a number of recommendations, which should form the basis of a much-needed package of support for general practice. The College looks forward to working constructively with the First Minister and the Welsh Government to put general practice on a stable footing."
"This is simply not good enough. Less than a month since we initially heard about this cervical screening error, we are now hearing it is more serious, and has affected thousands more women.
“Cervical screening is a successful national programme that has potentially saved thousands of lives, yet take up especially among younger women, is falling. We should be doing our utmost to encourage more to have smear tests but errors, such as this, will only serve to further damage women’s confidence in the programme.
“Again, it is important for women not to panic and await further information – and we know that NHS England are working to contact women who have been affected as a matter of urgency. We also welcome the forthcoming review into national cancer screening programmes by Professor Sir Mike Richards.
“Capita has been shown time and time again to be unable to deliver on the work it has been contracted to do in the NHS. This is completely unacceptable - people working throughout the NHS have lost all confidence in Capita, and it really is time for NHS England to reconsider its contract with them.”
A GP practice in Nottingham serving 12,000 patients has been forced to hand back its contract to NHS England due to severe financial pressures.
BMA Scotland has vowed to make tackling bullying and harassment a priority in the coming year after GP leaders won their battle for an independent inquiry into a ‘toxic environment’ at NHS Highlands.
The fate of 161 newly-qualified GPs from non-European Union countries remains unknown five months after fears were raised that some of them might face deportation.