This site is intended for health professionals only

‘Email your GP rather than visit A&E’, Sir David’s £2m pension and why expectant mothers should watch their iodine intake

Patients should email their GP instead of attending A&E to help free up health services, a leading official said yesterday.

The Daily Mail and Telegraph report on the comments of Mike Farrar, the head of the NHS Confederation, who said that contacting doctors online instead of in person would allow GPs to assess health complaints quickly and refer them onwards only if necessary.

Mr Farrar was speaking at the House of Commons health committee, but MPs voiced concerns about the idea, with Labour MP Valerie Vaz warning that ‘the average patient wouldn’t know what to say or what to ask’.

Elsewhere, newspapers are focusing on the £2m pension pot to be awarded to Sir David Nicholson when he leaves NHS England next year. As chief executive of the NHS and now NHS England, Mr Nicholson has headed up the health service for the past seven years - but has faced repeated calls to resign over his role in the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

The Daily Mail reports that MPs branded the size of the payout as ‘sickening’ and said campaigners for a safer NHS were relieved of the retirement news, while the Telegraph’s front-page headline is ‘a reward for failure’.

Meanwhile a new UK study has indicated that mothers’ diets may harm the IQ of two babies in three.

Newspapers including the Independent report that most pregnant women in the UK are deficient in iodine, a mineral vital for cognitive development.

The study shows that two-thirds of expectant mothers had a mild to moderate deficiency in the mineral, which was associated with significantly lower IQ and reading ability in children at the ages of eight and nine.

Iodine is essential for growth and development of the brain, with pregnant women needing 50% more. Researchers said women should ensure they are getting enough from their diet.