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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Flu vaccine and Guillain Barre syndrome

Train phone advice staff

GPs must ensure staff are properly trained if they are giving health advice to patients over the telephone, the Medical Protection Society has warned.

The advice follows a case, settled for £70,000, where a receptionist told a patient with flu-like symptoms, who subsequently died of pneumonia, that they did not need to visit the GP.

Drugs to be fast-tracked

NICE has announced a fast-track process to cut waiting times by more than half for important new drugs. Guidance for new drugs and indications that are fast-tracked will take around six months to produce rather than the current average of 14, the institute said.

Guide to patient safety

The National Patient Safety Agency has updated its incident 'decision tree' to help practices and other NHS bodies deal with adverse incidents and move away from a blame culture.

A seven-step guide to patient safety for practices, stressing the need to build a safety culture and promote reporting of incidents, was launched alongside the updated decision tree.

The decision tree can be found at http://www.npsa.nhs.uk/health/resources/incident_decision_tree

MMR gap to be plugged

The Welsh Assembly has launched a new offensive against gaps in MMR coverage to deal with a 'dramatic' rise in mumps cases. A catch-up campaign aims to immunise up to 100,000 young people who missed out on the vaccine as infants.

Asthmatic drug licensed

The EMEA has licensed new drug omalizumab (Xolair) as an add-on therapy for hard-to-control asthmatics.

Omalizumab lowers levels of the immunoglobulin E antibody. Asthma UK estimates the drug could improve quality of life for half a million patients and is pushing NICE to accelerate its appraisal.

BMA's July 7 recognition

Doctors from the BMA attended a 10 Downing Street reception last week to thank them for the help they gave in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings.

Dr Peter Holden, who coordinated the BMA's efforts after the bus bombing outside Tavistock House, said he was representing the many people who had played a part.

Lower statin dose

AstraZeneca has launched a 5mg dose of rosuvastatin (Crestor) after approval by the UK licensing authorities. It will be the recommended start dose for Asian patients and those with risk factors for myopathy.

GPs drafted into A&E

GPs in Wales will be drafted in to overstretched A&E departments under Welsh Assembly plans to overhaul out-of-hours and unscheduled care.

The move follows a successful pilot in a Swansea hospital.

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