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Complaints dragging on

The Healthcare Commission is failing to resolve almost one in three complaints against doctors within its six-month target, its latest figures show.

Statistics for May showed a drop in the number of complaints referred, from 800 to 600. But the number of cases still open after six months rose from 19 to 32 per cent.

The commission said one complaint in four was returned to PCTs and hospital trusts because it should have been resolved locally.

Flu and RSV death in children

Flu and respiratory syncytial virus kill many more young children than had been thought, a new study reports. The RCGP Birmingham research unit found the diseases accounted for an average of 50 respiratory deaths a year in children aged one to 14 months, but a further 107 deaths from other causes.

Study leader Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the unit, said the results could have important implications for Government policy, as flu vaccination and antiviral treatments were not recommended for children under 12 months. 'The big issue is should we vaccinate children or not?' he said.

Plan for teen-only practices

Specialist GP practices dedicated to teenagers will be proposed in the Government's White Paper on primary care services, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has indicated. In an interview with The Guardian, she said GPs must question whether they were 'really caring for the whole family if teenagers are not using the service'.

The fact many young men did not register with a GP should be debated as part of the 'listening exercise' on the Health Outside Hospitals White Paper, the Health Secretary added.

Dual registration, improved access to advance and urgent GP appointments and tackling problems for patients trying to register with GPs will also be addressed.

Drive on access for deaf

GPs in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to participate in a survey to assess the quality of access for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

The BMA has joined with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf to raise awareness of practices' responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Dr Brian Dunn, GPC Northern Ireland chair, said practices would be given 'advice and support' if they were not compliant. He said: 'While many GP practices will be compliant we need to identify and assess those who are not.'

'Help gay GPs to come out'

Practices need to ensure their culture enables gay and lesbian GPs to feel secure in coming out to their colleagues, a new BMA report suggests.

The report also calls for a 'zero tolerance' approach to homophobic language, behaviour and attitudes. Practices are required to make GP and staff recruitment, contracts and terms and conditions comply with anti-discrimination legislation, the report said.

Caution on high-dose statins

The National Prescribing Centre has urged caution in the use of intensive statin therapy, following analysis of the Treating to New Targets study on high-dose atorvastatin.

In its latest MeReC extra bulletin, the NPC warned that although patients in the 80mg group had a reduced risk of cardiovascular events, they had an increased risk of treatment-related adverse events. 'These effects highlight caution with the use of intensive statin therapy in the broader population of people at risk of CV events,' the NPC said.

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