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Senior GPs stand up for doctors as patient survey accuses them of lacking compassion and high use of sleeping pills deemed 'worrying'

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 27 September

This morning the news is more doom and gloom with The Guardian leading on a Patient Association report claiming that many doctors lack compassion.

According to the survey's findings large numbers of patients have cause to be dissatisfied with the contact they have had with the primary care sector.

Analysis of the experiences of NHS primary care relayed by a sample of 500 patients who called its helpline between January and June this year shows a small but growing minority of patients have major concerns about how their GP treated them.

The paper quotes Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the British Medical Association's GPs' committee, saying that the report is hard to reconcile with the last Department of Health survey of patients' experiences, which found that 88 per cent rated their overall experience with their GP practice as good and 93 per cent had trust and confidence in the last GP they saw.

However, although based on a small number of patients, Dr Vautrey said the findings highlighted some real concerns. Some patients were being denied the chance to see a consultant because of 'arbitrary' money-saving limits set by NHS primary care trusts that restricted GPs' ability to refer patients to hospital. He said that could pose a medical risk to a patient whose condition was not picked up.

Running the same story the Daily Telegraph quotes Dr Clare Gerada accusing The Patients Association of 'unfairly criticising GPs'.

She said: 'We are really disappointed by this report. GPs actively encourage patient feedback and take concerns very seriously but we must put these numbers in perspective and view them in the context of other formal and more representative studies such as the annual Patient Experience Survey which shows overwhelming support for GPs.'

Elsewhere a report Royal Pharmaceutical Society finds that too many people may be damaging their health by self-medicating with sleeping pills.

According to the BBC the study's findings show that half of people with insomnia diagnosed themselves and took medication without seeking medical advice.

The warning was based on the findings of a survey of 2,077 people.

In the survey, 30 per cent of people said they had taken sleeping pills for more than a month without getting advice while 14 per cent had gone six months.

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