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#GPnews: NHS needs an extra 5,000 hospital beds, say emergency doctors

13:50 The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has launched a call for an extra 2,200 emergency medicine consultants to reach safe, sustainable staffing levels.

Its campaign also demands extra hospital beds, extra funding and extra support services for A&E staff.

RCEM Vision 2020 calls for:

  • at least 100 extra training places per annum for at least four years
  • over 5,000 more hospital beds in England alone to get bed occupancy rates back to safe levels
  • the co-location of vital care services around emergency departments
  • a redirection of the £1.3m being spent each week on locum agency staff in England into an emergency care transformation programme.

Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: ‘We cannot allow the situation to continue to deteriorate each year. With preparations already underway for the forthcoming winter, we believe that the measures within our strategy will halt further decline, and allow emergency departments to thrive in the long term…

‘We have identified that we need at least 2,200 extra Emergency Medicine consultants in England alone to achieve safe, sustainable staffing levels, with posts structured to allow good recruitment, retention and prevent career burnout. Importantly, it will allow adequate numbers of senior staff to be present at busy times over the course of a week.’

12:30 ONS data released today show that there were 1,237 asthma-related deaths in 2016, including the highest number of asthma-related deaths in men since 2004.

The England and Wales data showed that between January to December 2016 394 asthma deaths were recorded in men, compared to 364 in 2015.

Across the population as a whole, asthma-related deaths fell by 5%, from 1,302 to 1,237, but the number was still higher than the 15-year average.

Branding the news ‘unacceptable’, leading asthma charity Asthma UK said improved asthma health would lead to a reduction in routine GP appointments needed, saving the NHS both time and money.

It said this comes as asthma currently accounts for 2-3% of primary care consultations at a cost of £160m each year.

Earlier this year, NHS bosses in England were given until 19 May to overhaul asthma care in general practice after a coroner demanded action to prevent future deaths.

This followed the death of a child whose life the coroner said could have been saved if the NHS had systematically implemented recommendations from the 2014 National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD).

Kay Boycott, chief executive at Asthma UK, said: ‘Every hospitalisation, every flare up of asthma, and every time a reliever inhaler is issued is an opportunity to prevent future harm but this is not going to happen unless we take a new approach to asthma care.

‘It is unacceptable that three years after NRAD only one recommendation has been implemented.

‘We must take advantage of new asthma digital health solutions to transform the way asthma care is delivered and support self-management. Digital asthma action plans, smart inhalers, and automated GP alerts are just some of the ways asthma care could be brought up to date and help reduce the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks.’

asthma - respiratory - inhaler - online

11:25 RCGP Scotland has raised concern that the pledged extra funding for Scottish general practice is not materialising.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon last year pledged an extra £500m in funding for general practice in Scotland by 2020/21, bringing spending to 11% of the frontline NHS budget.

But the RCGP said in a written statement to the Health and Sport Committee last week that the pledges were ‘too broad’ and lacked ‘clarity’.

It said: ‘General practice is in severe need of a clear, positive future, illustrated by adequate governmental investment, if it is to attract sufficient numbers of medical graduates to general practice specialty training.

‘If the long-standing underfunding and confusion that we are currently experiencing is to continue, we will keep witnessing a considerable number of general practices closing and transferring the running of their practices to Health Boards due to insufficient resource through which to remain solvent.

‘Patients will continue to be found queuing outside practices for the uncertain opportunity merely to register with a GP. It is a major deficit to bear such long-standing underfunding and confusion.’

But a Scottish Government spokesperson reiterated the commitments, adding: ‘Health secretary Shona Robison recently set out that £250m of this new investment will be in direct support of general practice, helping to transform the way services are delivered in the community – an approach that was agreed with the British Medical Association.

‘In this financial year, over £71m of that funding is to support general practice by improving recruitment and retention, reducing workload, developing new ways of delivering services and covering pay and expenses.’

09:50 Antibiotics clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides and phenoxymethylpenicillin have been linked to malformations in newborn babies when taken during pregnancy.

Canadian researchers who carried out the study said the risk was small but doctors should consider other antibiotics, reports the Times.

Author Dr Anick Bérard said: ‘Our study highlights safer options for the treatment of infections, more specifically urinary tract infections or pulmonary infections, at least during the first trimester of pregnancy.’

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