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Doubts on flu vaccination

A Department of Health report criticising lack of communication between hospital doctors and GPs has sparked a furious row over shared-care protocols.

The Management of Medicines report, published last week, found communication problems had damaged patient care. It backed increased use of the protocols and said patients should receive copies of letters between doctors.

But the GPC said the proposals were bureaucratic and shared-care protocols were 'totally wrong', adding it was 'very disappointed' payments for extra workload had not been forthcoming.

The report called communication between primary and secondary care 'an area of concern' with 'many examples of patients experiencing difficulty obtaining their medicines easily because of lack of effective communication'. It said GPs should raise concerns over funding for shared care with their PCT.

But Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing sub-committee, stressed payment should come from enhanced services. 'Many PCTs don't have the funding for enhanced services and it has to be resolved. I'm very disappointed with the way things have been going. GPs should be paid for long-term care and management of patients on drugs such as methotrexate and Ritalin.'

Dr Fellows, a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, said shared-care protocols were 'totally wrong and inappropriate' because of legal uncertainties, adding: 'There's no reason why this can't be done in secondary care.'

Dr Gareth Hayes, a GP in Cardiff and medical secretary at Bro Taf LMC, said copying letters was bureaucratic and caused anxiety for patients.

By Brian Kelly

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