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#GPnews: Capita plots to replace staff with robots

16:00 Most NHS staff in Wales are satisfied with the care they provide and feel their role makes a difference to patients, according to the latest NHS staff survey.

The results, announced by the Welsh Government, showed:

  • 90% of respondents said they are happy to go the extra mile at work
  • 88% of staff feel that their role makes a difference to patients
  • 78% are satisfied with the care they provide
  • 71% are satisfied with their job (an increase from 65% in 2013)

There was also an improvement of 7% in Welsh language communications since 2013, with 48% of staff now saying that they are able to provide services in Welsh.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘I am very proud of our dedicated staff. These responses really show their commitment to their job and the difference they are making to patients in NHS Wales.

‘NHS staff work extremely hard and these results show that they also take a great deal of satisfaction from the work that they do. NHS Wales is a great place to work and I hope that people considering a career in healthcare will come and join us.’

14:55 A blood test to check for antibodies typically produced at the early stages of lung cancer may hold the key to earlier diagnosis of the disease, reports the Daily Mail.

University of Dundee researchers carried out tests on people who had smoked heavily for 20 years or who had a history of lung cancer in their family.

By checking the levels of antibodies they were able to identify who was at high risk and required further investigation, thus identifying a number of cases of early lung cancer.

Dr Stuart Schembri, who co-led the research, said: ‘This test allows us to scan from a much more informed position and removes the stress around many patients unnecessarily having to go through a CT scan. 

‘But most importantly, we feel it may help us to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages when we have an improved chance of successful treatment.’

13:00 The GMC Council has appointed a new GP member.

Professor Anthony Harnden, an Oxfordshire GP and university lecturer with a research interest in primary care paediatrics, is joining the council on 1 January.

He will be joining alongside Professor Paul Knight, a consultant physician in geriatric medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and two new lay members with financial expertise.

They were appointed by the Privy Council and will serve a four year term until 31 December 2020.

GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson said: ‘Their wealth of experience will make sure that the decisions that we take as an independent body will continue to be rooted in the everyday experiences of doctors, as well as help us to exercise strong financial governance in the years ahead.’

11:30 Parliament has a new doctor member, following Dr Caroline Johnson’s win in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election yesterday.

The consultant paediatrician replaces fellow Tory Stephen Phillips after he resigned over ‘irreconcilable policy differences’ with Prime Minister Theresa May, as the Guardian reports.

Existing doctor MPs include former health minister Dr Dan Poulter and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the House of Commons Health Committee.

10:25 The Government is giving paramedics a pay rise by moving them up a band on the NHS pay scale. Currently earning between £21,000-28,000, going forward the pay range will be £26,000-35,000.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Our dedicated paramedics do a vital job helping patients when they need it most so I’m very pleased that we have agreed a new pay deal with unions.

‘In recognition of their increased responsibilities we have agreed to look at re-banding around 12,000 paramedics where their job description matches the requirements of the new band 6 profile, moving them up the pay scale and making sure we are able to better recruit and retain paramedics in the future to ensure patients will continue to get the very best care.’

09:45 Outsourcing company Capita, NHS England’s provider of primary care support services, is plotting to replace staff with robots to boost profitability, reports the Guardian.

The company, which also collects congestion charge and the TV license, has unveiled plans to save £50m annualy via a range of saving measures including using more ‘proprietary robotic solutions’ and moving 200 jobs to India, reports the paper.

Chief executive Andy Parker said robots would improve performance by ‘taking away some of the decision-making and cutting down potential errors’.

He said: ‘It doesn’t remove the need for an individual but it speeds up how they work, which means you need [fewer] people to do it.’