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More GP appointments available due to success of pilot scheme

An NHS scheme that has enabled GP practices to free up more time for doctors to see their patients i..

An NHS scheme that has enabled GP practices to free up more time for doctors to see their patients is to be extended following a successful pilot.

NHS England said the Time For Care scheme, tried out at certain sites since 2016, should be in place in three-quarters of GP practices by 2022.

The scheme encourages practices to try innovations to cut bureaucracy.

In 2018, 205,157 clinical hours – equivalent to GPs having 1.2 million more appointment slots – were freed up.

NHS England said that represents close to £40m in time saved, as the average cost of an appointment is £30.

The scheme also saved 330,096 administration hours in the past year.

Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England's medical director for primary care and a south-east London GP, said the programme has had "significant benefits for patients and GPs alike, freeing up doctors' time and NHS resources to ensure people get the care they need as quickly as possible.

"GP services will continue to be at the heart of our health service, and it makes sense to invest for another three years in a programme that is delivering so much for patients while helping us to be more efficient."

The scheme in action: one practice's story

  • Routine GP appointment waiting times were reduced by 47% at Pickering Medical Practice in North Yorkshire after it took part in the scheme
  • The surgery had an average waiting time of 19 days, which led to a greater demand for urgent appointments, as patients' conditions worsened during the time they had to wait
  • Staff were stressed as there were high levels of patient complaints due to the long waiting time
  • After a staff suggestion, patients are now offered a telephone appointment first, leading to a 12% increase in telephone appointments. This has reduced the number of patients seeing a GP face-to-face by 8%
  • As patients are able to get the attention of a GP sooner, the demand for urgent care consultations has fallen from 48% of the total to 37%
  • They also freed up GPs' time by appointing a clinical pharmacist to deal with medication tasks and recruited a new nurse practitioner to increase the number of nurse appointments available
  • Helena Ebbs, a GP at the practice, said she was "proud" of the changes they'd made. She said it has "had a great impact on patients" and "energised" her "enthusiasm in a time of great pressure"

The scheme now aims to cover three-quarters of GP practices by 2022.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chairman, said the extension of the scheme was "welcome" as there was potential for the scheme to go much further "with practices considering safe, effective automation within their systems in order to free up staff time and release time for care".

But he said "much more needs to be done to reduce the day-to-day pressures on practices so that we can make general practice a positive environment for all staff to work in.

"Unsustainable workload pressures have been the number one concern for many GPs and their practice teams in recent years, and have been a main cause of the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice."

In January NHS bosses unveiled a new 10-year plan focusing on prevention and early detection.

GPs, mental health and community care will get the biggest funding increases to shift the focus away from hRead More – Source

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‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".

They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.

Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.

How does it work?

The mind-reading technology works in two stages.

First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.

Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.

This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".

Why do it like that?

You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.

However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)

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Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.

It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.

He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".

Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

'Alarming'

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.

Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.

But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.

The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:

  • The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
  • The comparable figure for France was 600,000
  • The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
  • In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine

Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.

It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)

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No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.

Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.

The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.

The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.

The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.

As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.

The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.

The advice

For babies: (more…)

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