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GPs 'lack skills to detect serious childhood illness'

GPs do not have the skills to detect serious childhood illnesses and should give the task to specialised nurses, claim experts involved in drawing up the Government's national service framework for children.

The damning assessment was rejected by the RCGP, which retorted that such

nurses 'barely exist'.

A report from the framework's ambulatory care working group concluded GPs

often missed serious acute illnesses in children or diagnosed them too late.

Evidence from the confidential inquiry into stillbirths and deaths in infancy, highlighted in the report, suggested most GPs fail to adequately investigate children with fever caused by infections, increasing the risk of missing meningitis, septicaemia, urinary infection or pneumonia.

'Few GPs measure temperature, yet height of fever predicts greater risk of serious bacterial illness,' said the report.

GPs also need to 'make themselves more approachable' and improve their communication with children, the working group said.

The report stated 40 per cent of GPs had no hospital training in paediatrics. It recommended wider use of 'community children's nurses'.

But RCGP child health spokeswoman Dr Ruth Bastable said such nurses were 'barely existent'. She added: 'Just how will training be funded? How long are we

going to have to wait for this service?

'And where is the logic in creating a new and different service that bypasses a group of doctors, 60 per cent of whom already have paediatric training?'

Dr Mustafa Kapasi, GPC representative on the children's framework and a GP in Greenock, Inverclyde, said a training programme was urgently needed so GPs could develop a special interest in child health.

He added: 'I think GPs are doing an excellent job when you think more than 95 per cent of paediatrics are handled in general practice. When we see so many patients, the reality is that we might miss something like one in a 1,000


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