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#GPnews: GMC wants to shake perception that it is ‘anti-doctor’

15:25 Physician associates, the new NHS staff grade aimed at reducing pressure on general practice and elsewhere, are no longer considered ‘doctors on the cheap’, according to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Instead, they are now a welcome addition reducing stress and burnout, he said.

This comes as RCP launched‘An employer’s guide to physician associates – Who are PA’s and when should you employ them?’

12:10 The Welsh Government has launched a plan to reduce smoking to 16% of the population by 2020.

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This comes as smoking is the biggest contributor to the disease burden in Wales, the Government said, causing an approximate 5,450 deaths annually and costing the NHS £302m each year.

The National Survey for Wales 2016/17 showed that currrently 19% of adults smoke, which is a significant reduction from 25% in 2005/06 – exceeding a target to reduce smoking by a fifth by 2016.

The new plan will see a statutory ban on smoking in hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and outdoor care settings for children by summer 2019.

It will also see the Government targeting getting more people into smoking cessation services (via ‘encouragement’ and ‘strengthening referral pathways’, especially for high-prevalence areas).

11:50 The GMC is keen to shake the perception that it is pro patient and ‘anti doctor’, reports BMA News.

In an interview, chief executive Charlie Massey said that although currently two-thirds of GMC funding is spent on fitness-to-practise investigations, he wants to ‘switch that around’ to ‘spend the bulk of’ money on ‘supporting doctors avoiding mistakes in the first place’.

He said: ‘My own view is: what is right for doctors is right for patients and vice versa.’

09:35 NHS ambulance trust spend on private providers to supplement their own services was £78.4m in 2016/17, according to a Press Association FOI.

Although this was down on 2015/16, when trusts spend £79.7m, it was 22% more than in 2014/15, the Guardian reports.

The Independent Ambulance Association (IAA) said private ambulance use was due to ‘staff shortages in NHS ambulance trusts, combined with continued increases in demand’.

Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: ‘It is concerning that trusts are having to use part of their budget for private ambulances, and serves to highlight the current levels of demand emergency departments are facing.’

Labour shadow health secretary Justin Madders said: ‘Ministers need to make sure that all ambulance crews, in every part of the country, are properly staffed and resourced. The Government should provide funding to get the best outcomes for NHS patients, not spend all this money on private companies.’

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