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#GPnews: NHS England ‘sincerely apologises’ for claiming Pulse story was false

16:04 Over 140 MPs have signed a cross-party call for health secretary Jeremy Hunt to commit to quicker diagnosis of autism.

Launched by Labour MP for Stockton South Dr Paul Williams, who is a practising GP, the letter requests a three-month maximum waiting time between referral and assessment.

It says this comes as research has shown that the average wait for a child to receive an autism diagnosis is three and a half years.

15:00 Commenting on that Pulse story on A&E patients requiring referrals, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘A&E targets are already being missed month after month, so it’s incredible that ministers are now considering putting new restrictions on services.

‘The NHS is being pushed so far to the brink due to underfunding that ministers are in secret discussions to ban sick or injured people from walking into A&Es. Patients deserve better and will want to know how these new restrictions will be policed. Do ministers really expect sick patients to be turned away at the A&E door?

‘Under the Tories the NHS is experiencing a severe financial squeeze, general practice has been neglected and hospitals are in deficit. Winter is coming and the health secretary needs to urgently explain how the NHS will cope.

‘Preventing patients from walking into A&Es is not a plan to help the NHS but an abdication of responsibility. Labour will implement a proper plan to make sure accident and emergency services are available to those who need them.’

As you can see below, NHS England is saying there are no plans to pilot A&E referrals as it stands, but is no longer denying that the idea has been floated.

10:50 NHS England has publicly apologised to Pulse for wrongly claiming a story about considerations for A&E patients to require a referral was inaccurate.

The backtracking followed Pulse’s decision to publish the full sound recording of the quotes from NHS England’s medical director for integrated urgent care, Dr Helen Thomas.

10:00 New guidance issued by NHS England advises that GPs should ask patients about their sexual orientation.

Although the guidance was drafted in cooperation with the LGBT Foundation, Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said it was ‘potentially intrusive and offensive’.

He told the BBC: ‘Given the precious short amount of time a GP has with a patient, sexuality is not relevant.’

NHS England has stressed that patients are not obliged to respond to the question.