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Immunologist's perspective

'See a GP' on OTC painkillers

Patients taking OTC painkillers containing codeine or dihydrocodeine for more than three days at a time are to be advised to see their GP.

The Government's drug safety regulator has requested that manufacturers update labelling of the painkillers to include more stringent warnings on the dangers of addiction.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the risk of addiction was 'extremely small' but that it was important people were made aware of the potential risk.

NHS backs acupuncture

Acupuncture delivered in a primary care setting is significantly more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, an NHS trial concludes.

The Health Technology Assessment, which followed up 159 patients for two years, found acupuncture reduced pain by eight points on the SF-36 pain dimension.

GP referral to an acupuncture clinic was also cost-effective, with an estimated cost of £4,241 per quality-adjusted life year.

Practice manager sent to jail

A practice manager has been jailed after swindling a practice out of £11,000.

Richard Hamilton, 51, diverted funds into his own account from the Banbury Road Medical Centre in Oxford and used them to buy an MP3 player, digital camera and computer.

Between July 2003 and October 2004 he also made payments from practice accounts to cover his mortgage and doubled his wages.

Whistleblowing in practice

GPs have been advised by NHS Employers to set up whistleblowing procedures in their practices.

An information pack to be sent to every practice in England will give advice on how to set up a policy to enable practice staff to raise concerns without fear of reprisals.

NHS Employers director Steve Barnett said: 'For a GP, letting your staff know how to raise concerns in your workplace is one of the most important things you can do to protect your patients.'

The pack, Whistleblowing for a Healthy Practice, is produced in conjunction with Public Concern at Work.

GPs seek White Paper talks

The GPC is calling on the Government to arrange a GP-specific meeting as part of its high-profile consultation into the Healthcare Outside Hospitals White Paper.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said he expected GPs to attend the series of regional and local public events designed to guage public opinion, but he wanted a separate event to ensure GPs' voices were heard. GPs would want to raise issues such as premises and education and to demonstrate the importance of the core principles of general practice, he said.

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