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GP pressures, innovation and bicycle prescriptions – This week’s Friday Five

Minister announces new national innovation ‘unit’

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood has announced that a new national unit is being established to oversee innovation and medicines. It will be led by Dr Sam Roberts, who is currently NHSE and I’s director of innovation and research.

The innovation unit will house the accelerated access collaborative, which was set up last year, along with an accelerated access pathway, with the aim of improving access to breakthrough treatments.

Health minister Nicola Blackwood said in a statement: “I want the NHS to be at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and medical innovations – but often it can take too long for products to get from the bench to the bedside. The accelerated access collaborative will speed up this process so patients and the NHS can be the first in the world to benefit from the most transformative technologies and treatments as part of our long-term plan.”

Read more on HSJ.

GP pressure: Numbers show first sustained drop for 50 years

An analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank has revealed the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year. The fall means the average doctor now has 125 more patients to care for than in 2014. There have now been four consecutive years of falls with the biggest drops being seen in England.

There have been reports of waits of up to seven weeks for a routine appointment, while those needing urgent appointments have been forced to queue outside practices in the early morning to guarantee to be seen.

The Nuffield Trust believes another 3,500 GPs would be needed to get the NHS back to where it was in 2014.

Read more on the BBC.

Bikes to be prescribed on the NHS

In a move to combat obesity and remove patient reliance on medication, the NHS will be prescribing bicycles for the first time.

Dr Tom Porter, a Consultant in Public Health Medicine with Public Health Wales, has said the scheme is also an effective way of improving mental wellbeing.

Dr Porter said: “Cycling is a fantastic form of physical activity and riding your bike is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of ill health while building your cardiovascular fitness. It’s also great for improving mental well-being too.

Read more in Telegraph. 

GPs are overtired and making mistakes

A recent survey has found that GPs are overtired and making mistakes, due to long working days and unsafe workload. One in 10 GPs ​across the UK were seeing twice as many people than they should, with an average of each GP dealing with 41 patients per day, despite 30 being the safe number.

Nottingham GP Dr Jonathan Harte, who took part in the survey, said: “By lunchtime, I felt on the edge and risked missing urgent tasks and contacts, thus affecting patient safety. I did miss the fact that a patient I had tried to contact earlier in the day had called back, so I didn’t call her back before the surgery closed.”

Read more from the Independent.


Quote of the week

Our quote of the week comes from Steve Mallen, whose 18-year-old son killed himself in 2015. Edward Mallen was a talented student who had won a place at Cambridge University and at his  funeral, his father vowed to investigate what had happened and fight for reform to prevent other deaths. That vow has turned into a remarkable personal campaign, culminating with the foundation and launch of a movement across the NHS, the Zero Suicide Alliance.

“In honour of my dear son and the thousands we have lost so needlessly to suicide, together with the hundreds of thousands who are suffering from mental illness today, we are pleased to be launching a new model and a new vision for mental healthcare and suicide prevention.”

Read more from the BBC.

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