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GPs should work longer hours to solve A&E crisis, and other health news

All the papers report this morning on the crisis in A&E, with The Mirror citing ‘savage Tory cuts’ as the main cause of what emergency doctors are warning could plunge the health service into its worst winter crisis ever. According to a report from the College of Emergency Medicine, patients could die because of overcrowding of emergency departments, says The Guardian.

The College says it is 600 consultants short of the 2,000 it needs to provide a fully manned service at every hospital for at least 16 hours a day.

It urges NHS England to make a list of changes, including ways to make emergency medicine more attractive to young doctors, while The Independent picks up on the call for GPs as well as social care services and NHS walk-in centres need to be open longer hours to take pressure of casualty wards.

Dr Chris Moulton, vice president of the College, told the paper: ‘GP out-of-hours tend not to be as comprehensive in the type of patients they will see and are often appointment-based. Most walk-in centres and minor injury centres tend to be open 12 hours a day, maybe five or six days a week. The only 24-hour service is A&E.’

In other worrying NHS news, the Guardian reports that the CQC has referred an investigation into care at Colchester General Hospital to police, over allegations staff were bullied and pressured into falsifying the records of cancer patients.

CQC inspectors found discrepancies between the hospital’s cancer waiting time records and patients’ individual medical records. The records of 61 patients revealed some cases did not receive treatment within the require 62 days and in three cases went beyond 100 days.

The inspectors spent six days in August and September talking to patients and staff, after an internal investigation last year failed to investigate the allegations thoroughly.

Chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, Sir Mike Richards has recommended the government puts Colchester General in special measures.

He said: ‘We have found that the concerns raised by staff in relation to changes made to people’s cancer pathways were not appropriately managed or investigated by senior staff of the trust, which is why I am now recommending that this trust should be placed in special measures.’

Meanwhile the BBC reports depression is now the second biggest cause of disability in the world, after back pain.

This news comes from experts writing in the journal PLoS Medicine, who compared the amount of disability caused by over 200 diseases and injuries. Depression came out in the number two spot as a global cause of disability, although its impact varied, with the burden of depression tending to be higher in low- and middle-income countries and lower in high-income countries.  In the UK it ranked third for the number of years it caused people to live with a disability.

Lead author Dr Alize Ferrari from the University of Queensland said: ‘Depression is a big problem and we definitely need to pay more attention to it than we are now.’