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#GPnews: Increase in UK women buying illegal abortion pills online

14:00 A new malaria vaccine, Sanaria PfsPZ-CV, has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing the disease in a clinical trial, says ITV News.

Researchers have sought an effective vaccine for malaria for over a century, with last year’s death toll at 483,000 following 214m infections in 2015.

Dr Benjamin Mordmueller, from the University of Tubingen in Germany, said: ‘By vaccinating with a live, fully active pathogen, it seems clear that we were able to set off a very strong immune response,” Dr Benjamin Mordmueller said.

‘Additionally, all the data we have so far indicate that what we have here is relatively stable, long-lasting protection.’

12:00 There has been an increase in the number of UK women sourcing abortion pills online, the BBC reports.

This comes despite it being a criminal offence in the UK to take such pills while pregnant without medical approval.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency seized 375 pills last year, up from 270 in 2015 and 180 in 2014.

Despite abortion being legal and available for free in all of the UK except Northern Ireland, the UK currently has the harshest punishment of any EU country for self-inducing abortion without medical approval. In theory, a woman taking such a pill could face a life prison sentence, with the gestational period irrelevant to maximum available punishment.

11:05 Do you feel concerned about online and social media comments about yourself or your practice left by patients for all to see?

The MDU has issued advice in light of a Harvard Medical School study, which found that 78% thought negative online comments added to the stress of their job, while 46% said online rating websites could harm the doctor/patient relationship.

In response, Harvard suggested doctors could:

  • respond positively to the comment – asking the person to get in touch directly to raise concerns, while respecting patient confidentiality;
  • complain to the website and/or asking for the offending information to be removed;
  • using the ‘right to be forgotten online’ to remove the page from search results.

But Dr Ellie Mein, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: ‘You must not overlook patient confidentiality when engaging with unhappy patients via social media. Responding to critical comments or attempting to have them removed can often be risky, counterproductive and add “fuel to the fire.”

‘Instead we would strongly suggest members contacting the MDU directly for advice. Our dedicated press team are available round the clock to answer any questions you may have.’

09:35 The leading health story across the papers this morning is the news that vitamin D protects against illnesses like colds, flu and pneumonia.

The London-based researchers go as far as to say that regularly taking supplements can, for those most deficient in the vitamin, be as effective as the flu jab.

Read our full story here