16:40 The Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) will advertise services for people feeling particularly lonely, stressed or worried over Christmas on beer mats in Newcastle and Sunderland.
A statement said: ‘By providing city centre bars with beer mats and posters, the trust is aiming to reach revellers in Newcastle and Sunderland who might not otherwise be aware of where they can go for help.’
It added that venues for the campaign included Harry’s, the O2 Academy, Digital, Centurion and The Junction in Newcastle, among others. In Sunderland, they include Life of Riley, the Lambton worm, The William Jameson and Bar Justice.
NTW’s patient information centre manager Karen O’Rourke said: ‘As the world gears up for Christmas and gets busy with family, shopping and parties, it can be easy to start neglecting your own personal wellbeing. As well as that, darker nights, colder weather and either your own or everyone else’s hectic schedule can often make people feel increasingly isolated or lonely.
‘We want people to know that they don’t have to put up with feelings like that. We, and many others, are here to help – be it with tips on looking after yourself, a supportive ear or help in finding more specialist support.
‘By having these publicity materials in city centre bars, we hope to make it easier for people who wouldn’t otherwise to seek out help and support should they need it.’
15:50 A health commission is being set up to help thousands of patients temporarily left without GP care as four practices in one area are forced to close.
West Lindsey District Council is leading the initiative to help patients in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire where Pottergate, Arboretum, Burton Road, and Metheringham practices are being shut down.
The provider Universal Health Limited, which went into liquidation in the summer, has revealed will close that the surgeries will officially close on 7 January 2017.
The four practices, with a combined patient list of 10,700, are being closed due to GP recruitment problems, Universal Health has said.
Retired GP Graham Warnes said: ’It’s a disaster, the remaining two surgeries in the town won’t be able to cope with the extra demand. We already have a critical situation.’
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust had managed the surgeries on a temporary basis since the summer.
NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group has claimed that all affected Gainsborough patients will have an alternative option within a quarter of a mile of their current surgery.
‘We completely understand this is regrettable and that some patients will feel concerned about change but we are committed to ensuring patients continue to access good quality, local, GP-led health services,’ Sarah-Jane Mills, director for service development and delivery a NHS Lincolnshire West CCG said.
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) will continue in its caretaker management role at the four practices until January.
Meanwhile, letters have been sent to patients to offer them reassurances and invite them to a number of drop-in events close to their respective practice.
12:10 A game invented by a GP has been cited as increasing physical activity throughout the country. According to the Guardian, Beat the Street, designed by Reading GP Dr William Bird, is a game in which players get points by walking, cycling or running between sensors on lampposts and swiping them with fobs. In Salford it’s called ‘going fobbing’ and pupils and parents at one primary school racked up 3,288 miles on their fobbing trips.
It seems to help make people more active – data from 53,000 participants suggests that during the two-month game phase, more adults reached the physical activity guidelines – up from 46% to 57%.
9:40 NICE has launched new guidelines on the treatment of HIV in primary care, calling for more testing in primary care.
The RCGP has welcomed the guidelines, but said more resources were needed before rolling this out.
RCGP clinical lead for HIV, sexual and reproductive health Dr Philippa Matthews said: ’Treatments for HIV now ensure that it is possible to live a long and healthy life with the infection. Yet, around a quarter of people with HIV in the UK are undiagnosed, so do not have access to this life-saving treatment.
’We welcome the emphasis in today’s NICE guidance on using appropriate opportunities to offer tests to patients, with an emphasis on additional approaches in areas of high and extremely high prevalence rates of HIV. This is something that the College supports, and is promoting through our new programme, which aims to develop and support a range of strategies for increasing HIV testing in primary care.
’However, as the guidelines acknowledge, there are barriers for GP surgeries to offer wide-scale HIV testing. Funding for such initiatives is currently decided by local councils, and there is no uniformity across the country. There is also the issue of effective implementation – including training and support for practices to adopt these schemes.’
We will have more on that story later in the day.