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Drug scare could send patients flocking to GPs

The health news headlines on Wednesday 28 September 2011

GPs should prepare for a surge in enquiries after the Mail’s front page advises people taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to consult their family doctor over research suggesting that some forms of the medication can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by 40%.

Last year almost 17m prescriptions were written by GPs in England for NSAIDs, but now a study from the Hull York Medical School warns that some could have harmful side-effects.

Practices may find some relief in the future with the Telegraph suggesting that more than 100,000 women a year will be spared repeated smear tests by checking strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) at the initial smear.

In pilots this resulted in a third of women (35%) with low-grade cervical cell abnormalities being sent home, as they did not carry them.

In other obs and gynae news the Guardian reports new NICE guidance on how health professionals should manage multiple births after discovering wide variations in the quality of care provided by different parts of the NHS.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, is reported in the Telegraph as suggesting that reducing the age at which men are screened for bowel cancer by a decade would save lives.

Those with cancer should be reassured that GPs are capable of spotting the side-effects of treatment. A Northumberland GP, Dr Gerry Morrow, has used a letter to the Guardian (not on website) to attack the paper’s article criticising family doctors for apparently not being able to identify problems caused by chemotherapy and other treatments.

‘The implication that GPs are ignorant of the complications of cancer treatment are as insulting as they are inaccurate,’ Dr Morrow writes.