STAR-CROSSED CARE Could the answer to the overuse of antibiotics lie in the ancient practice of astrology? Conservative MP for Bosworth David Tredinnick seems to think so. A supporter of complementary and alternative therapies, he was quoted in Pulse suggesting it could “certainly” be useful to GPs and could also help reduce the cost of the NHS as a whole. A keen student of the stars himself, the MP said it could be used by GPs to help patients understand which pending health issues they should look out for. The signs of the Zodiac, he explained, have been associated with different ailments – Capricorn with knee issues, Aries the head and Pisces the feet. “Some people because of their astrological make-up would be more susceptible to some ailments than others,” he said. “It has been used for 3,000 years… and we need to be a bit more broadminded.”
EXTREME MEASURES Diary isn’t certain whether a topless shot of health minister and GP Dan Poulter will help or hinder efforts to boost exercise uptake among the general population, but we can only applaud his bravery. Earlier this year he announced that he (and two fellow MPs) had accepted an eight-week fitness challenge from Men’s Health magazine in a bid to prove even busy people have time to exercise. Two months of calorie controls and work with a personal trainer left the Tory politician 2.5kg lighter while his body fat dropped from 24 per cent to 18 per cent. Dr Poulter and his colleagues showed off the results of their labour with topless before and after shots in the magazine, whose editorial declared: “If they can juggle work and fitness, you sure as hell can too.”
LIVERPOOL, KNOW THYSELF GPs practising in Liverpool may be delighted to know that the city appears to lead the country in online self-diagnosis. Video service Push Doctor accessed data from 61 million UK internet searches for 160 leading health issues. It found that the trend for self-diagnosis has risen 19 per cent over the last year (with an average of an extra 848,000 searches each month). The share of health searches was highest in Liverpool (5.99 per cent), Cardiff (5.86 per cent) and Surrey (5.74 per cent). Least curious about medical issues were Hertfordshire (0.94 per cent), Milton Keynes (0.72 per cent) and York (0.64 per cent). Among other curious trends was that back pain and depression were the most searched-for topics in Liverpool whereas in Shropshire it was diarrhoea. l
RE: YOUR CANCER Some GPs can be reluctant to break bad news to patients – but in Oxford it may be far better for all to grasp the nettle. John Radcliffe Hospital is reported to be introducing a strategy where hospital administrators will inform patients they may have cancer if GPs have been less than explicit when using the two-week urgent referral pathway. This is to prevent patients from cancelling appointments or investigations for “trivial” reasons such as going on holiday. Oxfordshire LMCs’ chief executive Dr Paul Roblin said it is “variable” whether GPs do it at present and that is the reason the hospital has taken that stand. “I do sympathise with both sides, GPs need to play their part in informing patients, but the John Radcliffe has to deal with patients in a sensitive way. Especially if it’s administrative staff offering the appointments, they’re not clinically proficient and they have to have the clinical skills to deliver that news in the right way.”
TOP BEACH, NO GP There has been no shortage of dire news when it comes to GP recruitment. A report in the Herald recently highlighted the failure of a Scottish health board to attract even a single applicant for a GP job despite offering a salary over £80,000 per year plus a golden hello and relocation package. The job is based in the town of Durness in Sutherland which has “a beach which is rated one of the best in Scotland”. A BBC Scotland investigation recently reported that health boards have had to step in to run 42 GP practices and only 240 of the 305 GP training places on offer in this year’s recruitment round have been filled.
WALK, SIT, CONSULT ON WATER Diary has noted that the dwindling supply of willing GP trainees has lately been matched by ever more creative means to attract candidates. Forget sober adverts in the back of the BMJ – you need a You Tube video with a James Bond sound track and action shots (Arran) or a consciously (let’s hope) cringeworthy musical number on the attractions of primary care (West Sussex CCG). East Cumbria GP Training Programme has launched #GreatBritishConsultations as a way of getting noticed on social media with a series of eye catching photographs to attract attention – this one rather Messianic. Good luck we say. Source: Steve Razzetti (www.razzetti.com) firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDICAL EMERGENCY WITH A VIEW NHS Highland recently conducted a workshop considering innovative solutions to improve out-of-hours care in rural areas. The current service was judged to be too fragmented and lacking in flexibility to cross cover, as well as being “extremely expensive”. One solution floated was the use of “telebooths” which would allow patients to talk to GPs from remote locations. Diary was immediately put in mind of the lone red phone box in the film Local Hero – perched on the stone quay of the fictional Scottish village of Ferness. Maybe you could enjoy a lucky glimpse of the northern lights as you await the EMRS helicopter.