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GPs win ‘significant concessions’ from NHS England over in-person appointments

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GPs win ‘significant concessions’ from NHS England over in-person appointments

GPs have secured “significant concessions” from NHS England in an apparent climbdown over patient access and face-to-face appointments.

Family doctors in England have threatened industrial action in protest against the government’s attempt to force them to see any patient who demands an appointment in person.

The British Medical Association (BMA) GPs committee voted unanimously to reject plans by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, which included “naming and shaming” surgeries that see too few patients in person, setting up what could be the first big clash between the medical profession and ministers in more than five years.

However, in private talks to resolve the crisis on Wednesday evening, NHS England told the BMA there were no longer any plans to publish monthly “league table” data showing what proportion of surgery appointments occur in person or virtually, according to sources. Separate plans to create specific targets for what proportion of appointments must be conducted in person have also been abandoned.

An NHS source claimed “naming and shaming” GPs responsible for low levels of face-to-face appointments had never been included in the plans; they only included the guidance saying “appropriate levels of face-to-face appointments for patients based on local need must be delivered”. The NHS source added that “while more localised access data will be published, the plan does not include ‘naming and shaming’”.

Amid concern about rising levels of abuse aimed at family doctors, senior NHS officials have also agreed to a “zero tolerance to abuse” campaign, which will be backed by Javid, sources said.

The BMA is still talking to its members about possible industrial action, which could lead to family doctors at the 6,600 practices in England reducing the work they undertake. However, senior officials on both sides will hope the concessions offered go some way to de-escalating the threat of industrial action this autumn.

A BMA spokesperson said: “These are significant concessions from what the government was talking about just two weeks ago, so we will need to give them serious consideration.”

The talks came as figures published on Thursday revealed a jump in the number of appointments offered by GPs in England, and a rise in face-to-face appointments.

Figures from NHS Digital show that an estimated 28.5m appointments took place in September – about 8% higher than for the same month in 2019, and more than 3m on the figure for August.

Of the appointments made in September 43.2% took place on the same day they were booked and 61% were in person. This 17.3m total for face-to-face contacts was the highest figure recorded since February 2020 and was up by about 3.5m on the figure for August, when 58% of appointments were face-to-face, the data suggests.

Before the pandemic about 80% of general practice appointments were conducted face-to-face. GPs have come under fire over allegations that they are not offering enough in-person appointments, which prompted last week’s threat of industrial action.

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Today’s figures highlight just how extremely hard GPs and our teams are working, caring for patients in their communities and alleviating pressures elsewhere in the NHS.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “These latest figures show that general practice is working hard to ensure that patients get the care they need with over 17m face-to-face appointments in September – the highest number since the start of the pandemic – and over 3.5m more than in August.”

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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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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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