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The waiting game

Pressure on conjunctivitis

GPs are coming under pressure to prescribe antibiotics for acute conjunctivitis from inappropriate school policies that keep children with the condition at home.

A new study, published online by Family Practice, found GPs were 'colluding' with requests for scripts from parents anxious their children should return to school.

Health Protection Agency policy is that infected children should not be automatically excluded ­ but the study found schools and nurseries were ignoring this advice.

Some 85 per cent had policies to exclude children, with a third requiring the child be 'cured' before returning.

An accompanying survey of 39 GPs revealed many felt under pressure to prescribe antibiotics ­ and were unsure of the disease's aetiology. Study leader Dr Peter Rose, lecturer in primary care at the University of Oxford and a GP in Benson, Oxfordshire, said: 'The HPA advice should be adopted by more schools so parents are not putting GPs under pressure.'

He added: 'There is rising awareness that antibiotics are not as effective as we thought. It's a question of disseminating this knowledge.'

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