General practice opening hours to be scrutinised

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From October general practices in England will be financially penalised if they close during core working hours during the week, the chief executive of NHS England has said.

Simon Stevens told MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that changes to the GP contract, which will be introduced in October, will allow NHS England to scrutinise GP opening hours more closely and take action where necessary.

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Swimming, aerobics, and racquet sports are linked to lowest risk of cardiovascular death

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Swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics seem to be the best forms of exercise for reducing the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found.

The researchers said that the small number of events impaired the statistical power in some analyses. There were relatively few deaths from all causes among runners and football players, which may explain the wide confidence intervals. However, they concluded, “These findings demonstrate that participation in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health.”

Digital hub cuts care home referrals to GPs by more than a third

headphonespcA recent news article in the BMJ highlights a telemedicine service run by a Yorkshire NHS trust which has reduced care home referrals to GPs by 40% and ambulance calls by almost 30%.

Staff in care homes  are linked to a digital hub at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in Keighley and can seek advice 24 hours a day about the health of any of their residents. The service is run by a team of senior nurses who have online access to GP patient records and can consult doctors at the trust if they need to.

Access the full article here using your NHS Athens log in.

Cranberry capsules do not reduce urinary tract infections in older women, study finds

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Taking cranberry capsules did not reduce urinary tract infections (UTIs) in older women living in nursing homes, a US randomised trial has shown.

UTIs are very common among nursing home residents: bacteriuria is detected in 25-50% of women living in nursing homes, and pyuria is present in 90% of these. Cranberry products have been of interest in preventing UTIs in this group of people, to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Women are unaware of pregnancy risks linked with sodium valproate

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Doctors are being asked to make sure that women and girls with epilepsy know about the risks of taking sodium valproate during pregnancy, after a survey found that half of those questioned were unaware that it could harm the fetus.

The charities Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Society, and Young Epilepsy conducted a survey earlier this year, in conjunction with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), of 2788 women aged 16 to 50 with epilepsy.