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England’s GPs to get £250m boost if they see more patients face-to-face

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England’s GPs to get £250m boost if they see more patients face-to-face

GPs in England will be handed £250m to improve their services but only if they increase the number of patients being seen face-to-face under a new government and NHS action plan.

The move follows an increasingly heated public war of words between GPs and health secretary, Sajid Javid, who has told family doctors to ramp up in-person consultations.

Under the “blueprint” GP practices in England will be able to share in a new £250m “winter access fund” to hire more staff, such as locum GPs, physiotherapists and podiatrists. However, the money will be conditional on increasing the number of patients who get an in-person appointment.

In future, GPs must ask patients if they want to come into the surgery to be seen or are happy to talk to a doctor or practice nurse on the telephone or by videocall instead and arrange a face-to-face consultation if that is what the patient wants.

NHS England made clear that “every GP practice must seek patients’ input and respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”. Exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 will be the most common clinical justification for refusing to see a patient in person, with most others offered a physical interaction, NHS sources said.

Ministers and NHS England have made clear to GP organisations during recent discussions about the new package of measures that surgeries will also have to provide more on-the-day appointments, especially to those in urgent need. There is evidence that the difficulty of getting to see a GP is one of the factors driving the recent rise in people seeking care at an A&E unit.

Only surgeries that provide “appropriate levels of face-to-face care” will be able to apply to the new fund for money to expand access to care. Those that fail to expand in-person treatment will be “offered support to improve” under a more rigorous regime of scrutiny of how they operate.

From next spring data will be published every month showing what proportion of each surgery’s appointments occurred in person or virtually, in what GPs may see as a “name and shame” exercise.

The government is also set to scrap the 2-metre social distancing rule in GP surgeries to pave the way for more patients to be able to come in, bringing them into what is already the policy operated by hospitals. The move will be outlined in new guidance on infection control procedures drawn up by the UK Health Security Agency which is due to be published imminently.

Javid has heeded some suggestions made by GP leaders by agreeing that they should write fewer “fit notes” for people who are off work sick and also undertake fewer DVLA checks.

But he has disappointed the British Medical Association and Royal College of GPs by rejecting other ideas they proposed to reduce their workloads. They included suspension of the Quality Outcomes Framework, under which GPs are paid for monitoring patients with conditions such as asthma and diabetes; creation of a new national helpline to answer patients’ queries about Covid vaccination; and ensuring that hospitals set up systems to let patients know when their planned surgery is happening, to reduce calls to GPs about that.

The BMA warned that the shake-up would make it harder rather than easier for patients to get appointments.

“After weeks of promising an ‘emergency package’ to rescue general practice, we’re hugely dismayed that whilst additional funding has been promised the package as a whole offers very little and shows a government completely out of touch with the scale of the crisis on the ground”, said Dr Richard Vautrey, the chair of the BMA’s GPs committee.

“GPs and their teams will now be facing the worst winter for decades, and as a result, patients’ care will suffer. Appointments will be harder to book, waiting times will get longer, more of the profession could leave and GPs will struggle to cope.

“It is also disappointing to see that there is no end in sight to the preoccupation with face-to-face appointments; a more intelligent conversation about the variety of appointments and care that are available to patients to meet their needs,” Vautrey added.

“The pandemic has proven that in many other cases phone or video appointments are entirely appropriate and appreciated by patients, and a crude focus on percentages or targets is completely unhelpful.”

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Health

Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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