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Facebook diagnostics, medical student crisis and why Lansley is promising online GP appointment booking for all patients

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 21 May

The BBC and the Telegraph celebrate the promise of online GP appointment booking, this morning. Health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that patients will be able to book appointments and even get repeat prescriptions online from 2015 in a bid to ‘take the hassle out of the health service'.

The Department of Health is also encouraging the NHS to develop apps for smart phones and tablets.

 

And in less cheery news, the BMA has warned that rising tuition fees and cuts to pensions will discourage potential medical students. Students paying £9,000 tuition fees could face debts of up to £70,000 by the time they start working.  And doctors at the start of their careers will be hardest hit by pension cuts, with many junior doctors having to pay more than £200,000 in extra contributions.

Tom Dolphin, chair of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, questioned whether medicine would ‘still be able to attract and retain some of the most talented young people'. He said: ‘At the moment, it is genuinely hard to find much cause for cheer.'

 

A boy has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness after his mum posted a video of his seizures on Facebook. Doctors had assumed that Evan Owens was simply holding his breath during tantrums. However, a Facebook friend who watched a clip of the boy's fits online suggested that it looked like a rare condition called Reflex Anoxic Seizures.

On returning to the doctor, Evan was diagnosed correctly with the condition, where pain or fright causes the heart to slow down, resulting in seizures. Mother Cerys said: ‘If I had not gone on Facebook we would still not have had a clue what was causing them.'

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