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Two weeks in primary care...News Roundup

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Alcohol screening should be used in primary care

Using alcohol screening tests in primary care could help ensure that people with alcohol problems are identified early, according to research by University College London.

The research suggests that the majority of healthcare professionals are not using NICE recommended tests, which could lead to cases of harmful drinking being missed.

The study compared the number of people at high risk reported in primary care with those reported in official figures.

The researchers found that primary care data had reported 1 per cent of males and 0.5 per cent of females as higher risk drinkers. However, figures from the Office for National Statistics survey found 8 per cent of males and 7 per cent of females were at high risk.


Professional indemnity insurance required

It will become a legal requirement for nurses and midwives to hold an indemnity arrangement in order to be registered with the NMC, from February 2014.

The new EU legislation took effect from 25 October 2013,but it will take time for it to be adopted by the UK government. The UK legislation is currently being finalised and will be subject to various approval processes, so it is unlikely the legislation will be in place before early 2014.

More information on professional indemnity insurance can be found at:


Software to determine patients' cancer risk

Primary care professionals could use new software to estimate whether to send a patient for further cancer tests, according to a study announced at the National Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Conference.

The electronic Cancer Decision Support (eCDS) programme works out the risk of whether someone with particular symptoms could have cancer, based on information logged by healthcare professionals. It is designed to work in the background of the computer system where clinicians log notes.

The work was led by Macmillan Cancer Support with part-funding from the DH.


Female genital mutilation report

A coalition of Royal Colleges have launched the report titled Tackling FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate Recommendations for Identifying, Recording and Reporting, which states that nurses, midwives and GPs should be made aware of women that may be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The report sets out a range of recommendations on raising the awareness of FGM among healthcare professionals.

The report's recommendations include categorising FGM as child abuse, implementing an awareness campaign and holding frontline professionals accountable for addressing FGM.

Other recommendations include identifying girls at risk, collecting and documenting evidence, and reporting cases of FGM. Around 66,000 women in England and Wales are estimated to have undergone FGM and over 24,000 girls under 15 are potentially at risk from the practice.

The details can be found at:

GP Access

Improving access to Scottish primary care

A review of access to GP practices across Scotland will be undertaken in partnership with the British Medical Association (BMA).

In addition a £1million scheme funded by the Scottish government will also test out models of primary care. The Scottish government will work with the BMA to modernise the existing GP contract. This will include reducing paperwork for primary healthcare professionals and GPs in order to free up more time for them to spend with patients.

The programme will build on initiatives, which are already in operation, such as the 'Deep End' practices, which deal with health inequalities, and NHS Highland's work to test models of delivering rural healthcare.


Midwife shortage during 40-year birth rate high

A shortage of 2300 midwives while births are at the highest level for 40 years caused maternity units to shut temporarily or turn away expectant mothers, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

Between April and September 2012 a total of 28 per cent of maternity units closed for 12 hours or more, the report said.

Mistakes in maternity care account for a third of the £1bn a year the NHS has to spend settling medical negligence claims. The NAO said that nearly one fifth of all spending on maternity services is for clinical negligence cover, the equivalent of around £700 per birth.


Flu campaign targets frontline staff in Wales

The NHS in Wales is encouraging staff to have flu vaccinations, in a campaign run by NHS Employers.

The 'Flu Fighter' campaign was successful in England where it increased frontline staff vaccinations by 108,000 between 2011 and 2013.

The campaign aims to sustain the momentum of NHS staff vaccinations in Wales which have increased in most areas year on year and were received by 35.5 per cent of staff for winter 2012/13.

NHS organisations and hospitals across Wales will receive advice and resources to raise local awareness and ensure that vaccinations are provided effectively.

Child Health

Signs of autism can be found in babies

Autism can be identified in babies as young as two months, according to research by Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, USA, published in the journal Nature.

Researchers used eye-tracking technology to measure the way babies looked at and responded to social clues. They found that the infants later diagnosed with autism had shown diminished eye contact when watching videos of human interactions.

The study, in collaboration with the Marcus Autism Centre and Children's Healthcare Atlanta, followed 59 infants who had a high risk of autism because their siblings had been diagnosed with it, and 51 infants at low risk. The children were then formally assessed for autism at three years. Thirteen of the children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Vital Statistics

700,000 people in the UK are thought to have autism

Five times as many males as females are diagnosed

15 % of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time employment

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them



Singing improves brain activity in dementia

Singing could improve the brain function of people with Alzheimer's disease, according to research from the George Mason University in Virgina, USA.

Over a four-month period the mental performance of patients from a US care home, who took part in regular group singing sessions, was recorded and compared with others who just listened.

The sessions had the most impact on people with moderate to severe dementia, with patients scoring higher in cognitive and drawing tests and also in a questionnaire about their life satisfaction.

Patients sang songs from musicals such as The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and The Wizard of Oz.

General Practice

The future of general practice

The BMA's GP committee has released a report setting out its vision for the future of general practice.

Developing General Practice: Providing Healthcare Solutions for the Future calls for a new approach to delivering care across general practice.

The recommendations include a more integrated and personalised model of patient care that is delivered by a team built around the GP practice, improving urgent and out-of-hours services, improved accessibility and local accountability, and improving the patient voice in local CCGs.

The report was published alongside new research by the BMA's health policy and economic research, which revealed a general practice workforce under strain and at risk of burnout.


New chief executive of NHS Confederation

The NHS Confederation has confirmed that Rob Webster has been appointed as its new chief executive, succeeding Mike Farrar who stepped down at the end of September.

Mr Webster is currently the chief executive of Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCHT). Mr Webster joins the NHS Confederation after a 23-year career that has spanned local, regional and central organisations and experience of all health service sectors. He will take up the post of NHS Confederation chief executive in February 2014.

Sir Andrew Cash OBE will take up the role of deputy chair while remaining as chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He has spent more than 20 years as a chief executive within the health service and has held senior positions at national, regional and local levels.

Forthcoming Events

Date: 29 November Event: National Dermatology Conference Location: London Contact:

Date: 4 December Event: Childhood Continence Location: London Contact:

Date: 11 December Event: RCN and RCGP Red Flag Cancer Seminar Location: London Contact:

Elderly Care

Nurses can encourage home health in elderly

Results of a poll by telecare company Centra Pulse suggests nurses can advise elderly patients on how to stay independent in their own homes so that they do not feel they have to cover up health problems.

The figures found a sixth of 2000 adults aged 65-93 had covered up a serious injury, illness or accident from a close friend or family member because of fears they might lose their independence. Around 12 per cent of those asked thought they would be seen as incapable of looking after themselves. Half wanted to avoid friends or family over reacting and more than two-thirds didn't want to worry them. Eleven per cent said they were scared about going to hospital.

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