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Surge in people ‘struggling’ with GP appointments, 20% sugar tax in hospitals and Boris for health secretary?

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

Research has shown a ‘steep increase’ in the number of people saying GP opening hours are inconvenient, the Telegraph is reporting this morning.

NHS statistics show more than 10 million patients ‘are struggling to get a GP appointment’, with the proportion of people unhappy with their opening times has risen by a fifth over the past three years from 8.5m to 10m patients, the paper claims.

The survey of 1m patients also indicated that the number waiting a week or more has risen by a third, with 18.1% of patients reporting this – up from 13.8% in 2012.

GP leaders said it was the result of the growing demand, but the paper said ‘some of the least popular GP practices were found to be closing for up to three and a half hours at lunchtime, as well as closing their doors for full afternoons and weekends’.

The NHS is set to impose its own 20% sugar tax in hospitals and health centres in England in a move to tackle the ‘naitonal sugar high’ that is ‘ruining people’s health’, the Guardian reports.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told the paper the NHS ‘will start charging more for high-sugar drinks and snacks sold in their cafes and vending machines in an effort to discourage staff, patients and visitors from buying them’, the paper says.

The NHS would use the expected £20-40m proceeds each year to ‘improve the health of its own 1.3 million workers’, according to the report.

Elsewhere, a treatment for cancer is showing ‘remarkable’ results in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the BBC.

The treatment involves an autologous stem cell transplant to ‘reboot’ the faulty immune system underlying MS.

Apparently around 20 MS have undergone the treatment in Sheffield in the past three years, and the BBC’s Panorama programme has been following the progress of some of them.

Professor John Snowden, consultant haematologist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: ‘It’s clear we have made a big impact on patients’ lives, which is gratifying.’

And finally, the Times are reporting that chancellor George Osborne is lining up Boris Johnson as the next health secretary. Well, it will be interesting, if nothing else…

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