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#GPnews: Lack of staff is leaving GP practices ‘struggling to deliver basic services’

16:50 The first day of the case at the High Court between junior doctor group Justice for Health and health secretary Jeremy Hunt has concluded for the day. 

Justice for Health claimed that new junior doctor contract, which Mr Hunt imposed earlier in the year, was ‘unsafe and unsustainable’ and accused the health secretary of acting ‘outside of his powers’, the BBC reports

But the Department of Health said the new contract is essential in boosting the number of doctors working at the weekend, while Mr Hunt’s legal team told the court that Justice for Health’s case was ‘wholly without substance.’

The case goes on and will conclude tomorrow. 

14:30 Elsewhere today, thousands of NHS staff are to be given training in compassion and communication skills, as part of a national drive to improve patients’ health, the Telegraph reports.  

The roll-out of the plan follows a pilot scheme funded by the NHS which has seen more than 2,000 doctors and nurses sent on two day training courses.

Dr Penny Newman, a former GP running the scheme, said: ‘People need to feel listened to – we know that just handing out advice doesn’t work. It’s no good saying to a patient, ‘you need lose two stone, cut out the cakes’.

‘You need to ask ‘What is stopping you from losing the weight?’ so that the patient can develop a plan that works.’ 

12:40 The GP recruitment crisis in one area of the south west has led to patients waiting weeks to get an appointment – with services at ‘breaking point’.

An investigation by the Bournemouth Echo found that there were currently 18 vacancies for GPs in the county of Dorset alone, which have been posted on a new website set up to promote the profession in the area, in a bid to alleviate the recruitment crisis. 

The local paper also found that practices have been forced to close due to a ‘lack of clinical staff’ and some have merged to ‘meet the demands of a changing and challenged NHS system.’ 

A spokesperson for the BMA said: ‘General practice is buckling from a combination of rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages. This is leaving many practices in areas like Dorset stretched to breaking point and struggling to deliver even basic services to the public, such as enough appointments

‘The government must implement its promised extra investment in GP services or thousands of patients could soon be left without access to a local GP practice.’

10:45 And it’s a big day for campaign group Justice for Health today.

The group of junior doctors, who mounted a legal case against health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose a new junior doctor contract earlier in the year, are challenging the Government at the High Court this morning. 

Justice for Health are live tweeting the case from the High Court. 

It comes as the BMA’s junior doctor committee confirmed last week that the three planned five-day strikes would go ahead in October, November and December, despite calls for them to be cancelled. 

9:30 The RCGP has launched a newvideo campaign aimed at attracting medical students, sixth formers and foundation doctors into general practice.

The video highlights the variety within the role, following a rural GP, a community GP, a prison GP and an academic GP among others. There is a separate video for each GP highlighted in the main campaign.

It has been launched alongside a guide to general practice in a campaign titled ‘Think GP’.

Read more about it here, and watch the video in full here.

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