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​#GPnews: Discovery of key to unwanted thoughts prompts potential for new antidepressants

16:15 Researchers have found a chemical in the brain – a neurotransmitter known as ‘Gaba’ – which helps to suppress unwanted thoughts.

Ability to control thoughts is ‘fundamental to wellbeing’, but not being able to is a common symptom of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia, reports the BBC.

In a trial carried out at the the University of Cambridge, the people with the highest concentrations of Gaba in their hippocampus were best able to block unwanted thoughts and memories.

Study leader Professor Michael Anderson said the discovery could lead to new treatments of the above-mentioned illnesses.

He said: ‘Most of the focus has been on improving functioning of the prefrontal cortex. Our study suggests that if you could improve Gaba activity within the hippocampus, this may help people to stop unwanted and intrusive thoughts.’

14:10 Have you had your flu jab yet?

NHS Employers is running a week-long social media campaign dubbed ‘#jabathon’ next week, to encourage health and social care staff to get their vaccination ahead of winter.

NHS England said this comes as 63% of frontline health workers at hospital trusts were vaccinated last year, up from 51% the previous winter.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘Prevention is the best line of defence against a flu epidemic and stemming the tide of infections through vaccination is imperative.

‘NHS Employers continues to run its flu fighter campaign, to boost vaccination levels among both healthcare and social care workers, protecting them and those around them.’

The Liveblog is a bit disappointed it’s just a social media campaign as we’d actually envisaged some sort of endless line of health workers, each giving the next person their flu jab… but maybe we’re just delirious. It is Friday, after all.

12:25 There will be a full statutory enquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, which saw scores of patients infected with hepatitis and HIV via NHS-supplied plasma during the 1970s and 1980s.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in the summer that there would be an enquiry, campaigners had raised concerns about the involvement of the Department of Health, reports the BBC.

Today, a spokesperson for the Theresa May said: ‘We have been absolutely clear of our determination to establish what happened in relation to the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s and to work with the families of those affected, and we are now moving forward with that process.

‘There was a strong view that it should be done away from the Department of Health. We have listened to those views and that’s why it will be conducted under the auspices of the Cabinet Office.’

11:30 The Government has announced that it will fast track certain ‘breakthrough’ medicines to be prescribed on the NHS, speeding up treatment improvements in areas such as dementia, diabetes and cancer.

It said the ‘accelerated access pathway’ would reduce the time for negotiating evaluation and financial approvals before NHS can purchase the products, which can otherwise take four years.

The Department of Health said the new scheme will also see investment for small and medium-sized enterprises, including £35m to develope digital products for the NHS and £6m for medtech, diagnostics and pharmaceutical products.

The DH will also spend £6m to on support for clinicians using new treatments and technologies, and £39m to ecourage uptake across the NHS.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: ‘I want the UK to be the best place in the world to develop new drugs and medical technology – but despite the innovation happening here, our uptake in the NHS can be too slow.

‘Today’s new measures will not only benefit patients by improving how quickly and easily we can get innovative products from the lab to the bedside, but will guarantee future collaboration between the life sciences sector and the NHS post-Brexit – benefiting the British economy and creating jobs.’

09:50 A freedom of information request by the Labour Party has found that the number of patients waiting for an hour or more to be moved from an ambulance in to A&E has doubled in the last two years.

This comes as Pulse reported that winter pressures were already mounting in September and October with four hospitals declaring black or red alerts and another hospital experiencing ‘almost unprecedented levels of demand’ – which GP leaders have warned will put GP under even more pressure this winter.

Labour’s investigation revealed that 111,524 patients waited at least one hour in an ambulance in 2016-17 – an increase from 51,115 in 2014-15, reports the Guardian.

Jon Ashworth, shadow health secretary, said: ‘These figures show an ambulance service pushed to the brink by years of Tory underinvestment. It’s clear that NHS services last year were operating at the absolute limit of what they could cope with.

‘There is no excuse for the Government to allow another crisis on this scale to develop this year. They’ve been well warned and they should take action to sort it out.’

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