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#GPnews: Accountants point to ‘5% rise’ in GP locum numbers

15:40 The Welsh NHS is as ‘well prepared as it can be’ to face winter pressure, health secretary Vaughan Gething has said.

Mr Gething was addressing the Welsh Assembly’s health committee when he said NHS ‘is better prepared than last winter and the winter before’.

But he acknowledged that there would be ‘difficult’ months ahead, amid sustained pressure on NHS staffing levels, reports the BBC.

13:00 The number of self-employed doctors working as GPs has risen 4.7% over the past year, from 51,725 to 54,174.

The rise reversed a long-term decline in the number of self-employed doctors working as GPs, which peaked at 60,500 in 2011, said locum accountants Brookson, which carried out the research.

It said the increase in self-employment in GP practices was likely due to growing use of locums to fill GP vacancies amid declining numbers of GP partners.

11:45 A CCG in the West Midlands has been given a poor financial rating which is ‘unprecedented’ in the NHS, reports Pulse’s sister title The Commissioning Review.

Auditors looking at the finances of NHS Shropshire CCG gave it the lowest of four possible ratings, saying that its governing body can have ‘no assurance’ that plans to control financial delivery are being applied effectively.

The CCG, which now has its fourth accountable officer in just over a year, was initially given a controlled deficit total of £14m for the year, but that has since been increased to £25.9m.

An audit committee report to the CCG’s governing body said the finding of no assurance is ‘unprecedented for this CCG and almost unknown in any other organisation’.

External auditors commented that this was ‘the worst set of findings from internal audit reviews that they had ever seen’ and a finding of no assurance ‘is almost unprecedented in any NHS organisation’.

09:40 The world’s largest research experiment on dementia has indicated that the brain goes through ‘lifelong decline’.

The experiment was organised as a game where players’ navigational ability were put to the test.

This was because getting lost is one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, reports the BBC.

And it showed that people’s sense of direction declines steadily after the teenage years, with people performing best at the age of 19.

The game, ‘Sea Hero Quest’, has been played over 2.4 million times worldwide, resulting in over 9,400 years’ worth of equivalent lab-based research, study leaders said.

Researcher Dr Hugo Spiers, neuroscientist at University College London, said: ‘What we’re able to announce to the world is it does decline across the lifespan.’

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