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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Patients truly value continuity, says GP

Young left vulnerable to flu

The Health Protection Agency and RCGP are urging GPs to focus on increasing uptake of influenza vaccine in young children with high-risk conditions.

Young children have been left particularly susceptible to flu because of low

circulating levels in recent years,

a new report by the two organisations concludes.

In 2003/4, the rates of illness were highest in the under-fours and there were 17 deaths among patients under the age of 18 in England and Scotland, caused by infection with the H3N2-Fuijan-like strain.

Heatwave advice is updated

The Department of Health has updated its plan for dealing with a heatwave after the Met Office predicted warmer-than-average temperatures for July and August.

The new advice includes careful monitoring

of heat-related illnesses through GP consultations and NHS Direct to trigger levels

of alert.

From June 1, the department has advised the identification of people at high risk of extreme heat, such as the over-75s and people suffering from mental health problems or chronic ill-health.

Public information leaflets will be distributed through GP surgeries, pharmacies, walk-in centres and hospitals.

Value your receptionists

Making receptionists feel more valued could help GPs hit access targets, research has concluded.

The study by the University of Exeter found patients' opinions of the speed of access were influenced by whether staff asked patients

to turn up and wait or to come in as an emergency.

The extent of practice computerisation was also a factor.

Author Professor John Campbell said: 'Practices need high levels of admin and support for the appointment systems. The GPs may be there but if the receptionists feel undervalued then patients may feel they can't get through to them.'

The research, published in this week's BMJ, studied GP assessment survey data from 54 inner-London practices.

Wales votes for smoking ban

The Welsh Assembly's committee on smoking in public places has recommended a complete ban in Wales.

Dr Richard Lewis, BMA Cymru Wales secretary, said the decision was a 'landmark day for health professionals'.

He said: 'Banning smoking in public places would be the greatest public health act that any government could do.

'It would have a huge impact on the health of the people of Wales.'

The BMA is lobbying Welsh MPs to vote in the UK parliament to give the National Assembly for Wales powers to bring in a total ban.

Low-dose vit D ineffective

Oral vitamin D supplements are only effective in preventing fracture risk in higher doses, a study reports.

A meta-analysis found that a vitamin D dose of 700-800iu a day reduced the relative risk of hip fracture by 26 per cent and non-vertebral fracture by 23 per cent, compared with calcium or placebo.

But the study, published in JAMA this week, found no significant benefit with 400iu a day of vitamin D. The dose of 400iu a day was not sufficient for fracture prevention, the researchers said.

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