Effect of online health information on GP consultations

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Research published in the British Journal of General Practice has explored how searching for online health information before visiting a doctor influences patients’ behaviour during the consultation.

The effect of Dr Google on doctor-patient encounters in primary care looks at the effect of searching online health information on the behaviour of the patients as well as how the GP handles this information.  It concludes that the use of the internet by patients is not seen as a threat by GPs and leads to a better mutual understanding of symptoms and diagnosis.

Full reference: Noor Van Riel et. al. The effect of Dr Google on doctor–patient encounters in primary care: a quantitative, observational, cross-sectional study 

 

Additional link: RCGP press release

Prescription history could help GPs diagnose cancer earlier

“We want to develop a tool that helps GPs diagnose cancer earlier in the hope of saving more lives.”– Dr Jem Rashbass 

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Cancer Research UK-funded scientists are to examine whether identifying patterns in medication given to patients before they develop cancer could improve early diagnosis.

Looking for patterns in prescriptions and other data could help guide GP referrals, especially in patients with non-specific symptoms that don’t obviously indicate cancer.

Only about half of those with the most common cancers have “red-flag” symptoms. And this is even lower in cancers with poor survival rates such as pancreatic, stomach, ovarian and brain cancer.

This research is being led by Health Data Insight which has received funding through Cancer Research UK’s Pioneer Awards scheme. Together with Public Health England and the NHS Business Services Authority they have created an anonymous dataset of nearly all the primary care prescription data – approximately 80 million medications being prescribed each month.

The researchers will then link this information to data in the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service to look for trends in medications given to patients before they were diagnosed with cancer.

Read more at Cancer Research UK

Blood pressure self-screening facilities in general practice waiting rooms

Making more blood pressure monitors available and accessible for patients in GP waiting rooms could increase the detection of high blood pressure and better enable patients being treated for high blood pressure to monitor and control their condition.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that patients without a history of high blood pressure often checked their blood pressure while waiting for a GP appointment.

The study found that patients often don’t know about the availability of self-measurement and may need help with the technique. Some patients were concerned about measuring blood pressure in a public place. Several preferred monitoring their blood pressure in the waiting room, than doing it at home.

Full reference: Alice C Tompson et. al. Patient use of blood pressure self-screening facilities in general practice waiting rooms: a qualitative study in the UK  

GPs struggle to support patients sent far from home for mental healthcare

GPs warn they are struggling to support young patients with mental illness after BMA research found seven in 10 children and adolescents with severe mental health problems were admitted to hospitals outside their local area | GPonline

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A total of 69% of child and adolescent admissions for severe mental health issues in 2016/17 were classed as ‘out of area’, according to data obtained from hospitals by the BMA.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the proportion of children admitted to hospital out of their area rose 12 percentage points in 2016/17 compared with the previous year.

The BMA warned that the figures – published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week – showed worsening access to specialist beds.

Read the full article here

Access to General Practice

Concerns persist over patients’ access to GPs and staffing levels

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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published Access to general practice: progress review. This follow-up report finds that the Department of Health and NHS England now have objectives to improve and extend access to general practice and have made some effort to understand the demand for extended access.  However, the committee notes that extended hours are being introduced without an understanding of the level of access currently being provided, or how to get the best from existing resources.

The report also notes that despite the government’s target to recruit 5,000 more GPs, the overall number of GPs has reduced in the last year, and problems with staff retention have continued.

Health Education England has increased the number of trainee GPs recruited, but still did not manage to meet its recruitment target last year.

 

6m more patients to have access to clinical pharmacists in GP practices

Over 700 more practices, covering up to 6m patients, are to have access to a clinical pharmacist through an NHS England initiative to expand the role in general practice. | GP Online

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NHS England has approved bids to hire a further 219 pharmacists to work in GP practices. The pharmacists will help free up GP time by providing patient consultations and expertise on medicine-related issues to the practice.

The new roles will be co-funded by NHS England and will bring the total number of practices in England with access to a clinical pharamcist to 1,350.

The scheme, which was launched as part of the GP Forward View in April 2016, aims to recruit 1,500 pharmacists to work in practices by 2021 and is supported by over £100m investment.

Read more at GP Online

General practice nursing

Health Education England has published The General Practice Nursing Workforce Development Plan.

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Image source: http://www.hee.nhs.uk

This report aims to offers guidance and steps that can be taken to improve general practice nursing recruitment and retention, and encourage nurses to return to the profession by setting out how best to respond to the current and anticipated workforce challenges at both strategic and local levels.

 

Key report recommendations include:

  • improving training capacity for the general practice nurse workforce by providing access to accredited training to equip them for each level of their role;
  • raising the profile of general practice nursing, to increase the uptake of the role as a first-destination career;
  • developing GPN educator roles to cover all CCG areas, including the promotion of mentor training for all GPNs  to retain the knowledge and expertise of existing GPNs; and
  • the development of a sustainable and easily accessible ‘how-to’ toolkit and web based resource to support the implementation of general practice nursing workforce initiatives.
  • a nationwide standardised general practice nursing ‘return to practice’ education programme which includes a general practice placement, mentorship and appropriate support to meet the NMC requirements for ‘return to practice’.

Full report is available here