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#GPnews: M&S to start hosting mental health chat groups

14:15 Fancy some therapy with your lunch and new suit trousers? Retailer Marks & Spencer is going to start hosting sessions on mental health, after teaming up with comedian and mental health activist Ruby Wax.

According to the BBC, 11 branches of M&S will offer fortnightly mental health chat sessions for people feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life.

There will be three of the so-called ‘Frazzled Cafes’ in London, and one each in Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich.

M&S retail director Sacha Berendji said they want the sessions to offer a ‘a simple, pressure-free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject – feeling stressed’.

He added: ‘We hope that by providing free and calm venues after the cafe has closed, we can help any members of the community who simply need to talk about things and what’s happening in their lives.’

12:30 Dementia patients are being let down by GPs who ‘don’t spot it early enough’, claims a headline in the Daily Express. It is reporting on an Alzheimer’s Society study which suggested older people with potential memory loss were not generally referred to memory specialists.

But, responding to the reports, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that actually it was a credit to GPs across the country that diagnosis of dementia has significantly increased under the current circumstances.

She said: ‘It is a credit to the hard work and dedication of GPs across the country that, in times of intense workload and workforce pressures, diagnosis of dementia has increased so significantly.

‘But pressuring patients to seek early advice, especially for short term memory lapses, can cause harm and create unnecessary worry.

‘There may be some situations where GPs might consider it in the best interest of the patient to delay seeking a formal diagnosis, especially in the early stages of the condition if there is minimal adverse effect on daily living and functioning.’

She added that GPs’ decision making may also be ‘influenced by their knowledge of the local availability of assessment and treatment services, which may be insufficient to meet demand’.

She said: ‘To ensure GPs are fully supported when treating patients with suspected dementia, there must be better access to appropriate post-diagnostic care services in the community so that patients can then receive appropriate treatment when and where they need it.

‘The college has produced a suite of resources including a dementia toolkit, training materials and educational tools to support GPs in making the diagnosis and undertaking effective management of dementia.’

11:15 The five-second rule for eating food off the floor is actually a thing, reports the Mirror and many other papers today.

Researchers at Aston University in Birmingham investigated how food absorbed bacteria from different floor surfaces, finding that the type of food, the type of floor and the length of time it spends on the floor all have an impact. Surprisingly, it was safest to eat food after it had fallen on carpet, rather than tiles or laminate.

Professor Anthony Hilton, from Aston University, said: ‘Eating food that has spent a few moments on the floor can never be entirely risk-free.

‘Obviously, food covered in visible dirt shouldn’t be eaten, but as long as it’s not obviously contaminated, the science shows that food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor.’

09:30 Respiratory ill health is taking ‘a huge financial toll’ on both the NHS and businesses that ‘cannot continue to be ignored’, according to a financial report out today from the British Lung Foundation.

Its analysis found that lung conditions costs the NHS £9.9bn annually, and another £1.2bn for the wider UK economy through days off work.

The charity wants an independent taskforce to be set up to develop a ‘credible strategy’ to tackle what it says is ‘stagnating’ progress on lung disease in the last decade.

Its report, Estimating the Economic Burden of Respiratory Illness in the UK, concludes that:

  • Respiratory disease costs the UK £11bn a year, representing 0.6% of UK GDP;
  • The most costly lung conditions are: COPD (£1.9bn each year), asthma (£3bn) and lung, trachea and bronchial cancers (£183m);
  • Based on direct costs, lung disease ranks as the 4th most costly disease area to the UK, after mental health conditions, musculoskeletal diseases and heart disease;
  • Respiratory health costs the UK economy £1.2 billion a year; similar to mental health (£1.27 billion).

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said: ‘We can no longer ignore a disease area which costs the UK £11 billion each year – it’s a terrifying injustice.

‘Our report makes the financial case for political action on respiratory health clear.

‘The Governments and NHS in both England and Scotland must now act with urgency. The solution is an independent Taskforce for respiratory health to improve outcomes for patients and the nation’s lung health.’


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