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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP's role in the health needs of refugees

New bid to cut admissions

A new computer program released by the King's Fund can provide GPs with 'early warning' lists of patients at highest risk of hospital admission.

The software ­ made available to the NHS earlier in the month ­ allows PCTs to identify high-risk patients using data such as patient illness, age and recent NHS contacts.

GPs and community matrons will be able to get lists of high-risk patients via PCTs.

BMA subscriptions increased

The BMA has increased its subscription rates for members by between 2 and 3 per cent.

For the year from October 1, 2005, principals will pay £369, up 2.5 per cent on last year.

Rates for doctors in the first year after qualification will be £93, up 3.3 per cent. Doctors in the second, third and fourth years after qualification will pay £186, also up 3.3 per cent. Doctors who have been members for 50-plus years will now pay nothing.

Warning over PCT mergers

Frontline clinicians are at risk of being sidelined as a result of wholesale PCT mergers, the NHS Alliance is warning.

Larger PCTs should have a clinical committee, on an equal footing with executive managers, to ensure GPs' and nurses' role in planning and running local services was not lost, it said.

Global sums fiasco lingers

GPs could have to wait months for corrections to their global sums after NHS IT experts botched their first attempt to clear up the mess.

Practices have been underpaid or overpaid by thousands of pounds in some cases because of errors in the Exeter computer system that calculates global sums. Top-up payments were meant to have been made last month but a new problem has now emerged.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'It's affecting the whole country. We are not pleased.'

Chickenpox risk warning

The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin is calling for doctors to be alert to the risks of chickenpox in pregnancy. It warned that pregnant women who have not had chickenpox should avoid all exposure to those with chickenpox or shingles.

It said 1.4 per cent of babies exposed to chickenpox infection in the first 28 weeks of pregnancy develop fetal varicella syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.

Child respiratory deaths fall

Child deaths from respiratory illnesses have fallen faster than the overall decline in child mortality over the past three decades.

In 1968 respiratory illness was responsible for 30.8 per cent of all deaths in children 28 days to 16 years old, but by 2000 this had fallen to 9.9 per cent, according to this month's Thorax.

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