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GP’s in the Spotlight

General Practitioners have been ordered by MP’s to reduce the number of patients they refer to hospital. If the family doctors succeed in the lowering of patient numbers they will receive extra cash, sometimes up to £9000 a year to surgeries.

The NHS has been advised to save £20billion over the next three years, leaving health trust managers desperate to find ways to cut costs. Primary care trusts are charged per patient if they receive hospital care.

One doctor who took part in a poll said: “If patients knew how much external pressure we were under to keep them out of hospital, they would mistrust our motives”. Another said the system had made him feel so dismayed that he had decided to retire early. Of the 667 doctors interviewed, over 60 per cent felt they were facing “inappropriate demands” from managers.

In other GP news this week, it has been revealed that one in 500 prescriptions written by doctors contains severe errors.

The General Medical Council study found that more than 45million prescriptions written by family doctors per year contain mistakes. Patients most at risk to harm from these errors are children and the elderly.

One in 20 items prescribed to patients gave cause for concern but most mistakes were classed as mild or moderate. Common errors included missing information on dosage and failing to ensure patients received necessary blood monitoring.

The research recommends a greater role for pharmacists in supporting GP’s, better use of computer systems and extra attention paid to prescribing during training. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society commented that the study highlighted the need for GP’s to give pharmacists bigger roles within their practices.

Perhaps if you want to avoid a prescription, follow the latest advice on food poisoning. Garlic, it appears, is 100 times more powerful at fighting food poisoning than two of the leading antibiotics.

Tests revealed the compound, diallyl sulphide, can easily breach a slimy protective biofilm employed by the Campylobacter bug to make it harder to destroy. It is more powerful than erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, and takes much less time to work.

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning and symptoms include diarrhoea, cramping, fever, and stomach pain. Most infections of this nature come from eating raw or under-cooked poultry or foods that have been cross-contaminated with dirty utensils or surfaces.

It is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and was responsible for 88 deaths in 2009.

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