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GPs warn face-to-face appointments plan could lead to exodus of doctors

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GPs warn face-to-face appointments plan could lead to exodus of doctors

GP leaders have warned that giving patients guaranteed face-to-face appointments could lead to a crippling exodus of family doctors already exhausted by the pandemic and despairing of being “pilloried” by ministers.

The profession’s key bodies said the government’s plan to force them to see in person every patient who asks will exacerbate the already serious shortage of doctors, especially as the proposal includes “naming and shaming” surgeries that do not comply.

Opposition parties also rounded on the government’s blueprint for change, with the former Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt saying ministers were taking the wrong approach.

“This is a burnt-out workforce running on empty,” he said.

The increasingly bitter war of words between GPs and the government escalated further when Prof Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), condemned ministers for implying that family doctors are lazy, despite working long hours and dealing with increasingly heavy and complex workloads.

“The last thing GPs are is lazy, and that goes for other members of our team as well,” Marshall told the Guardian.

“GPs have worked to their limits over the last 18 months, caring for patients in as safe a way as possible,” he added.

He also accused minsters of spreading dangerous myths that telephone or video appointments are inferior to in-person interactions. “The narrative being peddled that remote consultations are substandard to those delivered in person is dangerous. Face to face appointments will always be an essential part of general practice, but good and safe care can also be delivered remotely.”

The British Medical Association said Javid’s failure to push through major changes it suggested to reduce GPs’ workloads “will force many GPs to hang up their stethoscopes and leave the profession for the last time.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, the chair of the BMA’s GP committee, told the Guardian: “This new performance management messaging and potential public naming and shaming will do little to persuade wavering GPs to remain in the NHS, and the constant criticism will do nothing to persuade new recruits to choose general practice.

“After pulling out all the stops, working all hours to provide for patients over the last 20 months, delivering world class Covid and flu vaccination programmes, these latest insults will leave many asking why they bother.”

Javid’s plan, under which GPs in England will receive £250m extra funding if they agree to see more patients face-to-face, was criticised by Hunt, the health secretary from 2012-18.

He described the government’s proposals as a poorly thought-out “sticking plaster” that would not work.

The chronic and worsening lack of GPs meant the plan is doomed, Hunt said. “As someone who tried and failed to get 5,000 more GPs into the system, I don’t think this package will turn the tide,” he said. While he recruited more young doctors to train as GPs, that success was nullified by larger numbers of older family doctors going part-time or quitting altogether, he added.

Official workforce figures published by NHS Digital show that the number of full-time equivalent GPs in England has fallen from 29,403 in September 2015 to 28,023 – a fall of 1,380. However, the overall number of family doctors has risen over that same period from 36,120 to 38,792.

“This is a burnt-out workforce running on empty because of a massive mismatch between supply and demand. The only thing that will convince them not to continue retiring or opting for part-time hours in droves is a clear plan to end the unsustainable pressure they face,” added Hunt.

He said Javid should instead focus on a massive recruitment drive that would include persuading retired GPs who came back into the NHS during Covid to stay. Incentives to entice doctors from abroad, especially Canada and Australia, to come and work in Britain, are also needed.

The outpouring of anger from GPs that greeted Javid’s “GP rescue plan” led the health secretary to pull out of a scheduled appearance at the RCGP’s annual conference in Liverpool at the last minute.

The BMA accused him of “running scared of speaking to the profession face-to-face because he knows his plan is, in reality, no plan at all.”

Opposition parties voiced their fears of even more GPs quitting.

“There is now a real risk that GPs already burned out from working overtime during the pandemic will walk away from the profession in frustration at the government’s attitude towards them”, said Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson.

“We should not forget the sacrifices many GPs have made to keep us safe. It seems the government have a short memory on this.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Within minutes Sajid Javid’s promise to guarantee face to face appointments with a doctor completely unravelled.

“By failing to put forward a proper solution there is now a real risk that more GPs could quit in frustration. No wonder the health secretary ran away from explaining himself face to face. Rather than picking fights he should deliver the 6,000 extra GPs he promised as Chancellor.”

Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer for England, struck a different tone to Javid when, addressing the RCGP gathering, he praised GPs as “outstanding”, adding: “I’m massively admiring of what you all have done, and continue to do, in the biggest public health challenge in our professional careers.”

After pulling out of the RCGP conference Javid did a round of broadcast interviews to defend his plan and then visited a GP surgery in south-east London where he lavished praise on family doctors.

Health

Group hails IG as mother accused Hospital of stealing Placenta

The Inspector General of Police, (IG) Kayode Egbetokun has received praises for the prompt arrest of suspects accused of stealing the placenta of a new born baby in privated hospital located in Kwara State. The suspects were taken from Ilofa to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Thursday.
In a statement signed by NHRC’s official, Mr Taiwo Adeleye said the arrest of the suspects was an important step towards securing justice for the families of Mr Rotimi Williams whose wife accused health officials at a private hospital of stealing the placenta of her new born baby.
The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC),a coalition of 130 civil society groups spread across Nigeria on Thursday expressed delight at the arrest of the suspects by the police.
The group said it was aware of plots by some powerful individuals to clog the wheel of justice but was delighted that the IG has brought hope to the despairing family. It called for full investigation that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of all culprits.
Few days ago, Mrs Williams accused the management of Cottage hospital, Ilofa, Kwara State of failing to account for the placenta of her new born baby. In complaints lodged with the NHRC, Mrs Williams said a nurse, Mrs Alabi took the delivery, one nurse Adeloye cleaned up the baby while one Mrs Toyin, a ward attendant claimed she mistakenly threw away the placenta.
“In Nigerian agelong tradition, the placenta is linked to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of a new born baby. There is a customary and agelong way of burying placenta of which every medical staff is aware.The disappearance of a baby’s placenta is a source of eternal trauma for the parents and a prelude to impugn the future of the child based on timeless tradition and beliefs,” the NHRC said.
The Coalition said the placenta could be stolen for rituals, adding that stealing a placenta is like killing the child or using the child for ritual by other means The group said it would follow-up the case “day and night” to ensure justice is done. The NHRC said Mrs Toyin brought out the mother’s bags from the labour room but failed to take the placenta along.
The rights group said one Mrs Ayoni Awolusi in the course of the delivery, claimed she was to be on duty but was absent. The medical personnel expected to be on dury was Dr. Ajibola. NHRC said Mrs Williams put to bed around 7pm on Sunday May 12 but discovered the missing placenta very early on Monday 13th, May.
The group called on the IG to intensify the probe and ensure every one connected with the gory episode is brought to justice

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AstraZeneca withdraws COVID-19 vaccines from market as demand reduces

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it was withdrawing Covid vaccine Vaxzevria, one of the first produced in the deadly pandemic, citing “commercial reasons” following a slump in demand.

“As multiple, variant Covid-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson added in a statement.

“We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

AstraZeneca rapidly developed the successful Covid-19 jab during the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the first half of 2020.

Vaxzevria, developed alongside Oxford University, was at first offered at cost but Astra decided in late 2021 to sell it for profit.

But the world pivoted towards mRNA vaccines, particularly the one produced by US drugs giant Pfizer and German peer BioNTech, after rare blood-clot problems with Astra’s jab increased public hesitancy about taking it.

Sales collapsed further as global Covid restrictions were fully lifted worldwide and the world emerged from the global health crisis.

The AstraZeneca spokesperson said the group had begun the process from taking it off the market in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMA) region.

The company will work with other regulators globally to start market authorisation withdrawals for the Vaxzevria “where no future commercial demand for the vaccine is expected”.

The spokesperson said that, according to independent estimates, “over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone” and more than three billion doses were supplied globally.

“We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

“Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic. ”

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Health

NMA lauds Police for arresting fake doctor in Lagos

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has commended the Nigerian Police Force for arresting an alleged fake medical doctor.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, Chairman, NMA Lagos, said the arrest will strengthen the association’s fight against quackery in the medical profession.

Olowojebutu explained that medical quackery was a dangerous practice that posed a threat to the well-being of citizens and the delivery of quality healthcare in the state, and country.

“The arrest is a welcome development for the health sector; we would expose these quacks and ensure that Lagos does not suffer further morbidity and mortality from their nefarious activities.

“We are glad that our work on anti-quackery has started yielding progress as we are determined to weed out quacks from the medical profession,” he said.

The chairman pledged that NMA Lagos, with the support of the Ministry of Health, Health Monitoring and Accreditation Agency, HEFAMAA, and police, would eradicate quacks from the state.

According to him, the association would hold an anti-quackery summit soon, after which it would present a white paper to the Lagos State Government on anti-quackery.

Olowojebutu warned hospitals to refrain from employing staff whose certificates and licences had not been verified by the MDCN to safeguard the health of the populace.

The 37-year-old medical practitioner with suspected forged certificates was arrested by police at Skylink Medical Centre, Elepe-Ikorodu.

The police said they arrested the suspect, who claimed to be the managing director of the health facility, based on intelligence gathered by the command through members of the Elepe community concerning the activities of the suspect.

The police recovered two suspected forged certificates of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, after searching for the facility.

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