FAMILY DOCTORS ARE BACK…TO SOLVE A&E CRISIS

By DAVID WOODING
TRADITIONAL family doctors will to make a comeback under plans to tackle the A and E crisis.
GPs will be relieved of box-ticking chores and given more time to care for patients.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes it will divert A THIRD of people away from over-stretched casualty departments.
Up to 6.5 million people go straight to hospital because they can’t see their GP, chemist or paramadic.
But Mr Hunt believes the return of old-style family practitioner responsible for their patients 24/7 will ease the pressure.
ImageReforms to be unveiled this week will put GPs “back in the driving seat” of health care.
From next April, old and vulnerable patients will be guaranteed a “named” GP who knows their medical history.
It is the first step towards tearing up Labour’s controversial contract which he blames for queues outside A&E units.
The right will be rolled out to other groups over the next four years.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Mr Hunt said; “Since 2004, we’ve made it easier and easier to get into A&E and harder to go and see a GP.
“The average wait in an A&E is 50 minutes. Compare that with how hard it is to get an appointment with your GP when you phone up.
“It’s not because GPs aren’t working hard, it’s just that Labour changed the nature of their job.
“Now they are only responsible for people on their list when their doors are open. Once they close up shop it’s someone else’s job.”
Mr Hunt also wants to phase out targets will force GPs to take a certain number of blood pressure readings or ask people how much many they smoke or drink – whatever their ailment.
He said: “I’m not joking. They get paid by asking people on their list a series of questions and the taxpayer pays them. This is what the contract introduced.
“You get the situation where a patient comes in with a fever and the GP says I need to ask you 16 other questions. That’s got to change. You’ve got to feel when you see your GP that the GP is there for you and is looking at the whole of you.”
He stressed: “It’s not about saying GPs must work harder, it’s about changing the structure which makes it impossible for them to be the family doctors they wanted to be when they joined the profession.
“If you go to a GPs’ surgery now, it is like a mini A&E and some feel they are fending off the hoards at the gate and the moment the phone lines open there is a whole queue of people trying to get through.”
The pressure on GPs has in turn led to people going straight to casualty for out of hours problems that could be dealt with by a family doctor.
Seven in ten unplanned admissions are over-65s. They also take up more time because some have multiple conditions which a family doctor could deal with quicker.
Hospitals also feel the pressure on bed space because consultants are less willing to release a patient unless they are sure they have got care at home.
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Mr Hunt added: “There is a group of patients who most of the time probably shouldn’t be going to A&E at all and these are the people who we’d look after much better if we proactively supported them so they didn’t need to go to hospital in the first place.
“Labour’s GP contract changes in 2004 destroyed the personal link between patients and their GPs by abolishing named GPs. As a result we have too many forgotten old people being pushed from pillar to post between hospital, social care and their GP surgery.
“That is the biggest single thing we can do to make A&E sustainable going forward.”
Mr Hunt said his aim was to tackle health issues outside hospitals as well as inside.
He has introduced Ofsted-style ward inspections to prevent a repeat of the Mid-Staffs scandal.
But he added: “It is also about people being left alone who actually need our NHS to be there for them. This is what will transform the NHS in the long run and make it a sustainable organization.
“The changes I will announce next week will mean there is someone looking out for you them the whole time, someone from the NHS who is there for these people.”
But last night doctors’ leaders warned the plan would fail without extra funding.
Mike Pringle, president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “They are overwhelmed by the workload they are expected to deliver.
“We have got to start to build general practice, not blame it, not victimise it.
“We have to invest in it if we are going to solve these problems. And I am sure the Secretary of State recognises that.”

Crumbs! Now they’re attacking our daily bread

By DAVID WOODING
BREAD will have all the goodness taken out of it under barmy new food rules.
Ministers want to remove calcium, iron and other nutrients from the baking process.
They have been added to white bread flour for the past 65 years to protect the nation’s health.
But the coalition wants to ditch the legal requirement to make our loaves more wholesome.
Experts warned the move could harm the health of struggling families living on the breadline by depriving young kids of the vitamins they need.
The laws were brought in during the post-war ration years to get a hungry nation back on its feet.
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Bakers were required to add calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin to all their bread.
The rules have stayed in place and apply to all white flour products – including hot cross
buns.
But the coalition is consulting on tearing up the 1947 regulations, even though none of the producers has asked for it.
Federation of Bakers boss Gordon Polson said: “Removing these nutrients would have a significant detrimental affect on the health of the nation.”
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh added: “It is crazy to think of removing vitamins from our bread in the middle of a recession.
“Many families struggling to provide food on the table during these tough times may not be able to afford to get these key nutrients any other way.
Cheap
“Our children are eating less fresh fruit and vegetables than five years ago and it’s imperative that the government keeps these valuable nutrients in their daily bread.”
Britons munch their way through 12 million loaves every day – three-quarters of them white bread.
Bread is still one of our favourite foods, with 99 per cent of families buying it regularly.
If the rules are changed, some fear shops will be flooded with cheap white bread stripped of any goodness.
Experts from the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, predict it will have a bad impact on young women and the poor.
In a report, they warn: “The impact of removing the mandatory addition of nutrients to flour could be greater in low income groups.”
A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The flour rules are from the post-war period when diets were poorer. But as healthy food is much more widely available now we’re checking whether legislation and red tape are still necessary.”

Binge drinking: The answer is right under your nose, PM

By DAVID WOODING
WHY does everyone have to suffer whenever the government wants to crack down on a few trouble makers?
David Cameron plans to ban cheap booze  in a bid to stop binge-drinkers wreaking havoc in our town centres.
He could do it by enforcing the existing law which makes it an offence to sell alcohol to people who appear to have had one too many.
But official figures show that only EIGHT landlords have been convicted of the offence in two years.
So it looks like there has been no attempt to tackle the problem using the powers at the PM’s disposal. Instead, everyone will suffer as he uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut.#
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Let’s be clear, putting a minimum price on supermarket beer, wines and spirits won’t stop boozed-up hooligans or problem drinkers. It will hit the less well-off who rely on a cut-price glass or two as a weekend treat, while the price of Chablis and Champers enjoyed by the middle classes won’t go up.
Ministry of Justice statistics show five licensees were convicted for selling alcohol to drunks in the whole of England and Wales during 2011,  the last year for which figures are available. It was only three during 2010.
If there really is a problem with drunks pouring out of pubs at closing time then why haven’t there been more prosecutions?
These figures will inflame a furious Cabinet row over plans to impose a minimum price of 45p a unit on all alcohol.
Selling booze to a person who is drunk carries a £1,000 fine under the 2003 Licensing Act.
Alcohol consumption is already falling, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
It forecasts that by 2018, Britons will be drinking 2.4 BILLLION fewer units – even without minimum pricing.
Unfair
Tory MP Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of backbenchers, urged ministers to enforce existing laws rather than clobber responsible drinkers.
He said: “Government already interferes far too much in people’s lives.
“If ministers want to stop anti-social drinking they already have the powers to do so without punishing everybody.”
Miles Beale, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “The government should enforce existing measures designed to combat problem drinking.
“Minimum pricing is unfair, ineffective and probably illegal. Why should responsible drinkers pay more?
“Alcohol consumption is already falling and there are tried-and-tested ways to combat problem drinking.”
A long and costly legal battle is already under way in Edinburgh over minimum pricing.
A law passed by the Scottish Parliament last year is being challenged on the grounds it breaches EU fair trade laws.
Minimum pricing would add about £600 million to the nation’s annual drinks bill.
It would mean a bottle of Tesco Chilean Chardonnay wine rising from £3.99 to £4.23. The store’s Everyday Value Whisky would shoot up from £11.00 to £12.60.
And 4x440ml of Sainsbury’s Crown Lager would increase from £3.47 to £3.96. Similarly 4x500ml of Asda Belgian Lager would rise from £3.94 to £4.50.

Schools plagued by “sexting” craze, says MP

 By DAVID WOODING
 
SCHOOLS are in the grip of a “strip-tease culture” fuelled by the rise of smart phones, an MP has warned.
Labour’s Diane Abbott says teachers and parents are powerless to halt the growing craze of sending lewd pictures by text.
She fears mobile technology has saturated young lives with porn in a way they were not 20 years ago.
The shadow health minister added: “I think many teachers and parents are struggling to cop.
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“While parents are unlikely to allow their children to see an 18 film, now boys and girls as young as 10 or 11 can go online and see stuff they could not buy in a newsagent.”
Ms Abbott is alarmed by the rise in “slut shaming” – sexual bully by mobile phone or internet.
In a keynote speech this week, she will say: “Young people are accessing far harder pornographic images than 10 or 15 years ago.
“We have to ask, does that influenece what they themselves put on the internet?”
Prudish
Ms Abbott insists she is not being prudish or hankering after some “rose-tinted picture of childhood”.
But she wants to “change the wallpaper of children’s lives” by bringing in more positive role models.
“Schools should encourage girls to value their bodies in terms of their physical ability,” she will say.
“We need more Jessica Ennis, less Paris Hilton.”
She added: “We need a sex education revolution in ordinary British schools. We need Statutory personal, social, health and economic education and sex and relationships education.
“Sex education must focus on preparing young people to form healthy respectful, emotionally fulfilling relationships, and also deal with the issues of self-esteem.
“Gender equality issues need to be central on the educational agenda, and throughout the curriculum.”

1,000 matrons jobs go

By DAVID WOODING

A THOUSAND matrons have vanished from hospitals in the past three years – despite David Cameron’s pledge to give them more clout.

NHS figures show that one in six of the top nursing jobs have gone since Labour’s last year in power.

It emerged just months after the PM promised to have more figures of authority on the wards.

Mr Cameron said:  “Nursing needs to be about patients not paperwork. People want to see a figure of authority on the ward. Call them a matron, a ward -sister, or a team leader.”

But official figures show the number of modern matrons has fallen from 5,035 to 4,157 between 2009 and August this year.

Community matron numbers were down from 1,552 to 1,391 over the same period, according to statistics published in the Commons.

Labour said the figures were a blow to moves to improve leadership and cleanliness on wards.

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Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne (pictured above) said: “David Cameron promised to back matron, but he’s sacked matron instead.

“A formidable matron on a hospital ward goes a long way to reassure patients. They lead the nurses and make sure wards are spotless. Yet the Prime Minister’s spending cuts have cost the NHS a thousand matrons.

“Without strong leaders on the wards patients will pay the price. Ministers are taking unacceptable risks with standards of patient care. They cannot continue to ignore the warnings from nurses’ leaders.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The NHS needs senior nurses to lead patient care at ward level. We want to see more of that – not less. But this data is wrong, as it doesn’t take account of four different types of senior nurses.  Looking at matron numbers alone is simplistic.
“We want to free up nurses’ time so they can spend it with patients – not with paperwork.”

Ten “urgent” ops cancelled every day

By DAVID WOODING
TEN patients had their NHS operations cancelled every day – despite being on the “urgent” list.
Health officials revealed the number facing painful delays has nearly doubled in the past two years.
Last month 320 ops, deemed by specialists to be urgent, were cancelled.
This is up from 273 the previous month – and an 86 per cent rise on August 2010 when 172 were postponed.
Labour health spokesman Andrew Gwynne said it was “outrageous” that so many patients suffered delays.
He added: “This government is leaving people in pain and discomfort as it plunges the NHS into chaos.
“At the election David Cameron promised to protect the NHS but he is betraying patients by axing 5,000 nursing jobs and inflicting budget cuts.
“The Prime Minister needs to get a grip. Patients are paying the price for his failings and they deserve better.”

Junk food craze sparks NHS fat ops crisis

By DAVID WOODING
POOR Brits on junk food diets are swamping the NHS with demands for quick-fix weight loss surgery.
A staggering 8,241 fat-busting ops were carried out last year – up 1,000 on 2010.  Nearly half of them among the most deprived social groups,
Official figures reveal that obesity has now become a problem of the poor, in the same way malnutrition was a century ago.
But more alarming is the growing number of working-class people resorting to drastic “quick fix” surgery to shed unwanted pounds.
NHS hospitals carried out nearly 1,000 more weight-loss ops on fatties in 2010-11 than in the previous year.
They included stomach stapling or fitting gastric bands, pouches and balloons to reduce the size of the stomach.
More than 1,094 were performed on patients from the poorest 10 per cent with a further 2,391 among the most deprived 30 per cent.
By contrast, only 405 in the top-earning 10 per cent of the country went under the surgeon’s knife to lose weight.
Last night a Labour MP blasted the “fast food, fast ops” culture costing the health service millions.
Quick fix
Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said: “These figures on quick fix operations are alarming.
“It is a tragedy that this fast food, fast op culture is blighting the poorest families.
“A lot of these families scarcely eat fresh foods at all because calories have become cheap but real food is expensive.
“What we need is nothing short of a national health revolution, rather than these quick fix ops which are putting such a strain on our NHS.”
Experts estimate that the obesity crisis will add an extra £2billion to the health service bill by 2025, with 26 million people overweight.
A gastric band operation costs £6,000, a by-pass is £11,000, a gastric balloon £4,000 and a gastric sleeve £10,000.
Ms Abbott accused Health Secretary Andrew Lansley of doing too little to encourage healthy eating among the masses.
She added: “It is clear that healthy school food is not high on theis government’s agenda.
Demolish
“Schools should be on the front line in the battle against obesity. Healthy school dinners and the teaching of domestic science are crucial tools in improving health.
“But this government has ended the school lunch grant as a separate source of funding and exempted academies from the nutritional standards for all other state schools that Labour introduced after Jamie Oliver’s great work.”
At least 200 Brits are currently thought to be too fat to leave home. Firemen had to demolish part of a house in South Wales last month to rescue 63 stone Georgia Davis, 19, after she was taken ill.
Experts estimate the obesity crisis will cost the NHS an extra £2billion by 2025, with 26 million people overweight.
Meanwhile, a poll showed 56 per cent of Brits have no idea what they weight.