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#GPnews: Birth year may be key to flu survival

14:48 Virgin Care has won a £700m contract to deliver NHS and social care serves in Bath and north-east Somerset to over 200,000 people, according to the Guardian.

The contract is £70m a year for seven years, with a possible three year extension.

It covers a wide range of services, including diabetes, dementia and mental health services, care for children with learning disabilities and the urgent care facility and Paulton community hospital.

13:12 The Welsh Government has announced that it will set up a new national body to handle health recruitment – Health Education Wales (HEW).

It said the body, which will launch in April 2018, will ‘deliver a national co-ordinated approach to delivering workforce education and training to meet the specific geographical needs of Wales’.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘The new body I’ve announced today will create an environment in Wales which builds a culture that supports learning in the working environment, attracting and retaining the best people possible, on a cross Wales basis.’

BMA Wales chair Dr Phil Banfield said he welcomed ‘the renewed focus’ on workforce planning at a time when ’the capacity of the current workforce is failing to keep pace with increasing demand’.

He said: ‘We have witnessed a growing number of GP practices handing back their keys to health boards as they are unable to recruit, an increase in the use of locum doctors in primary and secondary care, as well as increasing overtime costs being reported by health boards amongst medical staff.

‘Attention clearly needs to be given to recruitment and retention of the medical workforce to alleviate these pressures.’

10:20 As we reported yesterday, GP practices will have to pay an employer administration fee to the NHS pension scheme under new plans proposed by the Government to raise £35m a year.

The article initially suggested that the Department of Health had calculated a £235 average fee per pension scheme member. The correct figure is actually £23. We apologise for this mistake and any confusion caused.

09:45 The year you were born may decide whether or not you survive the next global flu pandemic, researchers have found.

A new study, published in the journal Science, found the first type of flu people are exposed to as a child sets up the immune system against one of the two main strains.

Therefore, people who were born before the late 1960s have better resilience against H1, H2 and H5N1, whereas people born later would have some resistance against H7 and human H3 strains.

The researchers found there was an 80% protection rate against death for the matching flu strain, reports the Independent.

Professor Michael Worobey, head of Arizona University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who took part in the study, said: ’In a way it’s a good-news, bad-news story.

’It’s good news in the sense that we can now see the factor that really explains a big part of the story: your first infection sets you up for either success or failure in a huge way, even against “novel” flu strains. 

’The bad news is the very same imprinting that provides such great protection may be difficult to alter with vaccines.’

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