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#GPnews: ‘High-risk areas’ for Lyme disease identified across UK

16:50 The Guardian reports on a number of high-risk areas for contracting the tick-borne infection Lyme disease.

It particularly singles out the South of England and the Scottish Highlands as danger areas for the infection, which ‘can lead to conditions such as meningitis or heart failure if left untreated’.

The article also says more widely that ‘areas known to have a particularly high population of ticks’ include: Exmoor, the New Forest and other rural areas of Hampshire, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, parts of Surrey and West Sussex, Thetford Forest in Norfolk, the Lake District, the North York Moors and the Scottish Highlands.

This comes in light of new NICE guidelines on Lyme disease, published yesterday, which suggested GPs shouldn’t rule out Lyme disease even if the patient didn’t recall being bitten by a tick.

Read our story on the guidelines here

16:10 Speaking today at the Labour Party Conference, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health and social care said if Labour was in Government, it would roll out mental healthcare for children in all schools.

The suggestion comes as the Welsh Government, which is Labour-run, is currently trialling such a programme in three areas, as we reported in yesterday’s liveblog.

Barbara Keeley MP said: ‘The Tory Government is failing children and young people in need of mental health services, denied treatment due to Tory cuts.

‘Young people told they are not thin enough to be treated for an eating disorder.

‘And thousands of people in mental health crisis being sent hundreds of miles from their families just to get the treatment they need.

‘Labour will increase the amount we spend on services for children and young people

‘We will ring-fence mental health budgets so that money isn’t siphoned off by other parts of the NHS.

‘And we will offer school-based counselling for young people in every one of our high schools.’

12:30 Patients in Luton are being asked to respond to a CCG consultation about the provision of gluten free foods and over-the-counter medicines on prescription.

The CCG said estimates suggested that by ‘stopping the provision of gluten free food on prescription could save over £80,000 a year for the health service’, while ‘stopping the provision of over the counter medicines (for short term, minor illnesses) could save around £1.2m annually’.

NHS Luton CCG chair Dr Nina Pearson said: ‘These days, a wide range of gluten-free foods are sold in many supermarkets and there are naturally gluten free foods available such as potatoes and rice.

‘Medicines such as coughs and colds remedies, antihistamines or some skin creams are also widely available over the counter to treat minor illnesses, meaning that people can treat themselves at home rather than going to their GP for a prescription.’

She said the consultation, which will last for 90 days and close in December, comes as CCG leaders are ‘currently making some difficult decisions about how to spend the available budget in ways that most benefit the health of Luton’s population as a whole, while ensuring we get the best possible value for money’.

11:00 A new tax should apply to bookmakers, which would be used for the NHS to end the ‘destructive cycle of addiction’. The suggestion will be made at today’s Labour Party Conference by deputy leader Tom Watson, who will also announce a review into the extent of the problem.

The BBC reports that the Association of British Bookmakers said it was not opposed to an ‘appropriate, compulsory levy’ that was used to treat gambling addiction.

09:30 A study commissioned by NHS England has concluded the QOF is not clinically effective, and should be replaced. However, depsite this conclusion, the authors did warn that just scrapping the pay-for-performance element of GP funding would be financially ‘detrimental’ to practices.

Read the full story here

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