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At the heart of general practice since 1960

New year cash-flow crisis set to hit practices hard

GPs are bracing themselves for a flood of worried-well patients after the Government announced precautionary mea- sures for recipients of blood products potentially infected with variant CJD.

It will be writing to around 6,000 patients, mainly haemo-philiacs, who are judged to be at greater than 1 per cent risk of iatrogenic vCJD.

The Health Protection Agency responded by writing to all GPs last week with details of responsibilities for identifying and informing at-risk patients.

Barry Hill, chief biomedical scientist for the National Blood Service at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, Wigan, said busy GPs should advise concerned patients who had not received a letter to call NHS Direct. He added that if they really were at risk they would be contacted in due course: 'The Government are playing it safe.'

Health Secretary John Reid described the measures as 'maximum caution and maximum openness' but GPs said public anxiety could put stress on services and further increase workload.

More information is available from the Health Protection Agency website

www.hpa.org.uk

At-risk patients

·Patients who have received clotting factors or anti-thrombin from UK-sourced pooled plasma

·Patients who have received intravenous IgG from implicated batches

·Patients who have received large volumes of albumin from implicated batches

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