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Gold, incentives and meh


NHS Direct lacks the capacity

NHS Direct may not have the capacity to manage out-of-hours care in England, a study has found.

A study of 31 out-of-hours organisations, published in the BMJ, revealed most were not fully integrated with NHS Direct, forcing patients to make at least two phone calls to contact NHS Direct and then wait for a nurse to call back.

In turn that led to many patients dialling 999 rather than wait for a return call. The authors said there were 'limited efficiencies' to be made through integration with NHS Direct.

No morning after for OTC Pill

The availability of emergency contraception over the counter has not encouraged unsafe sexual practices, UK researchers conclude.

Their study, published in the BMJ this week, found use of emergency contraception had fallen from 8.4 per cent in 2000 to 7.2 per cent in 2002, after the 2001 switch to OTC status. But the proportion of women accessing emergency contraception from their GP has fallen, from 62 per cent in 2000 to 49 per cent in 2002.

Tibolone warnings hardened

Warnings about the risk of endometrial cancer from tibolone will be strengthened next month, Pulse has learned.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will include new warnings in the next edition of Current Problems in Pharmacovigilance.

It follows a review of data from the Million Women Study finding a 79 per cent increased risk of endometrial cancer among 28,000 users of tibolone. Advice on oestrogen and oestrogen plus progestogen HRT will remain unchanged.

Global sum errors resolved

Practices that have received reduced global sums, because of errors in the software used to calculate them, will be reimbursed in full by the end of August, GPC negotiators have confirmed.

Those practices that have been overpaid by less than £2,000 will see global sums adjusted accordingly so they are up to date by the end of August. Those overpaid by more than £2,000 will see global sums adjusted in the next six months.

Registrars keep overpayment

GP registrars in Yorkshire have hit the jackpot after NHS managers were advised against clawing back massive overpayments of on average £15,000 in PCT supplements made during vocational training.

A report to the board of South Yorkshire strategic health authority revealed it overpaid 12 of its 94 registrars last year, to the tune of £184,500. Auditors have advised the authority that clawing back the money would be difficult because the registrars may have already spent the money and that attempts to do so would cause 'damage to the reputation of the GP registrar training scheme'.

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