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#GPnews: BMA condemns DDRB 1% uplift recommendation

15:20 The BMA has responded with anger as the DDRB’s annual report on pay increases has again recommended a 1%, below inflation, pay rise.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair, said: ‘Yet again the annual pay review is nothing other than a cover for driving down real pay in the health service. The DDRB is recommending just a 1% pay uplift for doctors, well below the current cost of living rise of 2.3%.

‘In real terms, doctors’ pay has sharply declined in the past five years, with junior doctors seeing their income drop by 17% at a time when their morale has been badly hit by the government’s mishandling of the new contract. Over the same period consultants have seen their pay drop by 14% and GPs by 13%.

‘Doctors will be angered by this apparent decision as it comes during a period when many are working harder than ever before in an environment of rising patient demand, stagnating budgets and staff shortages.

‘Hospital doctors and GPs are bearing the brunt of the funding crisis facing the NHS, and are choosing to leave. This is where rota gaps, consultant vacancies and closed GP practices start.

‘While targeted incentives of the kind proposed in this report might sound positive, they do not ultimately address the serious overall problems that are widespread throughout the country. The health service needs a proper, long term workforce plan and not piecemeal initiatives that offer only a short term fix.

‘We will analyse the DDRB report in detail, but these initial indications will come as a bitter blow to a workforce already wondering whether the government knows or cares about the demoralising effect of year-on-year pay cuts.’

GPs in England, Wales and Scotland have already been told they are only receiving a 1% pay uplift, whilst in Northern Ireland there is no clarity amid political uncertainty.

13:45 Playing Tetris can be an effective clinical therapy, according to a number of studies highlighted today on the BBC News website.

Professor Emily Holmes, from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, has found playing the computer game may lessen the psychological impact of traumatic events.

She said: ‘Our findings suggest that if you engage in very visually demanding tasks soon after a trauma, this can help block or disrupt the memory being stored in an overly vivid way.’

She added there was a very limited window of six hours during which to intervene.

Meanwhile, researchers from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia, found it could help curb cravings for coffee, cigarettes and alcohol – and a small Canadian study suggested it could help treat lazy eye. 

10:30 Labour’s shadow health secretary is not supportive of NHS England’s announcement that it will review a ban on some OTC meds.

Jonathan Ashworth suggested in a statement that it amounted to rationing, and was a result of Tory underfunding.

He said: ‘This Government has forced the NHS through the longest period of financial squeeze in its history. Indeed, hospital bosses have recently warned it will be ‘mission impossible’ to achieve the standards of care the public demand given the scale of the underfunding.

‘We have long warned this underfunding would lead to greater rationing of services and treatments. Ministers need to explain what today’s restrictions will mean for those eligible for free prescriptions such as the elderly, pregnant and those on low incomes.

‘Of course, NHS bosses are right to demand the best possible value for money from the medicines they buy so that every penny can go towards patient care. But let’s be clear: the greater restrictions and rationing proposed today are a direct result of Theresa May’s underfunding of the NHS.’

09:55 GPs could be told not to prescribe ‘low priority’ over the counter medicines, including gluten free foods, travel sickness remedies and Omega-3 supplements in a move NHS England says could save £400 million.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced today, in an interview with the Daily Mail, that it will look at introducing new national guidance preventing the routine prescribing of these item. He suggested this will also free up GP appointment slots.

He said that the NHS spends £114million ‘on medicines for upset tummies, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion’ and that doesn’t even account for the £22m on gluten free, products that can now be bought in supermarkets.