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GPs will be forced to turn down 50 million appointment requests and other health stories

The Mirror’s top story this morning warns that over 50 million appointment requests will have to be turned down by GPs next year, according to a new report by the RCGP.

The College says underinvestment in primary care has led to a crisis where demand outstrips the supply of GP appointments, and calls for 8,000 more GPs ‘to help deal with the shortfall’.

RCGP honorary treasurer Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘The fact that patients in England will be unable to see their GP when they want to on more than 50 million occasions in 2015 is a truly shocking indictment of the crisis that is enveloping general practice.

‘No GP wants to turn away a single patient – but surgeries are being faced with no choice because they don’t have the resources to cope with the increasing number of older people who need complex care, whilst also meeting the needs of families and people of working age.’

The Department of Health said seven million people are being offered Skype and email appointments with the GP to ‘combat the overstretching of services’, according to ITV.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘We know GPs are working under pressure which is why we have cut GPs’ targets to free up time with patients and are increasing trainees so that GP numbers continue to grow faster than the population.’

Meanwhile fist-bumping instead of shaking hands could help prevent the spread of flu, reports the Telegraph this morning.

Scientists at Aberystwyth University found bumping fists instead of using a traditional handshake cut the transmission of bacteria and viruses by up to 90%.

Dr Dave Whitworth, senior lecturer at the university, said: ‘People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. But if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.’

Elsewhere the BBC warns that a significant number of blood donors are unwittingly passing on hepatitis E.

The news is based on a study in the Lancet that showed around 1,200 people are being infected with the hepatitis E virus (HEV) each year in England through donated blood.

Author Professor Richard Tedder, from Public Health England, said: ‘Although rarely causing any acute illness, hepatitis E infections may become persistent in immunosuppressed patients, putting them at risk of future chronic liver disease, and a policy is needed to identify these persistently infected patients and provide them with appropriate antiviral treatment.

‘However, our study indicates that the overall burden of harm resulting from transfusion-transmitted HEV is slight.’