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Patients offered GP appointments by Skype and email

Seven million people are now being offered GP appointments via Skype and email as well as out-of-hours in an attempt to combat overstretching of services.

It is thought GPs will turn away patients over 50 million times next year due.
It is thought GPs will turn away patients over 50 million times next year due. Credit: PA

The Department of Health said the number of GPs had also increased by 1,000 since 2010.

A spokesman 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."

Overstretched GP services 'will only get worse'

The crisis brewing in GP services from chronic under investment "will only get worse," according to Good Morning Britain's resident health expert.

Dr Hilary Jones, who is himself a GP, said overstretched services were the result of higher patient demand, an ageing population, and a lack of GPs all contributed to the crisis.

His comments come as the Royal College of General Practitioners warned GP surgeries in England will turn away patients over 50 million times next year as practices become increasingly overstretched.

Fist bump 'more hygienic than shaking hands'

Bumping fists instead of shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, researchers have suggested.

Fist bumps are more hygienic as a result of its speed and smaller contact area, academics at Aberystwth University said.

Fist bumps could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, scientists have claimed.
Fist bumps could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, scientists have claimed. Credit: PA Wire

Researchers used thick rubber gloves and a layer of the bacteria E.coli before exchanging handshakes, high fives and fist bumps to determine which greeting was the cleanest.

High doses of the bug were transferred during a handshake, but that was reduced by more than half during a high five and 90% when bumping fists.

"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," Dr Dave Whitworth, senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University, said.

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GP system 'brought to its knees by lack of investment'

The GP profession in England has been brought to "its knees" by a lack of investment, doctors' leaders have claimed.

The comments come after the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCPG) predicted patients will be turned away more than 50 million times by GPs in 2015.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCPG honorary treasurer, said:

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 profession has been brought to its knees both by a chronic slump in investment and the fact that there are now simply not enough family doctors to go around.

The Government must urgently move to increase investment in general practice to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017 - and recruit 8,000 family doctors.

– Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard

Read: GP figures 'shocking indictment of service'

Liberia closes border crossings as Ebola concerns grow

Liberia has closed numerous border crossings in a bid to contain the Ebola virus that has killed 660 people across west Africa.

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The Ebola virus has killed 660 people across west Africa. Credit: Reuters

The measures come as a second American citizen working in the country contracted the deadly virus, which has spread across Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

"All borders of Liberia will be closed with the exception of major entry points," Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.

"At these entry points, preventive and testing centres will be established, and stringent preventive measures to be announced will be scrupulously adhered to."

Read: Police guard Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone after 'cannibalistic' claims

RCGP: GP figures 'shocking indictment of service'

Figures showing the number of patients expected to be turned away by their GPs are a "shocking indictment" of the "overstretched" system, leading doctors have said.

Research by the Royal College of GPs claimed the number of times patients will be unable to see their doctor will pass the 50 million mark for the first time next year.

The RCGP said if current trends continue, then in 2015:

  • Patients in London will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 10.4 million occasions (increase from 9.3m in 2014)
  • Patients in Birmingham and the Black Country will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 3.2 million occasions (up from 2.9m)
  • Patients in Greater Manchester, will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 3.1 million occasions (up from 2.8m)
  • Patients in West Yorkshire will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 2.3 million occasions (up from 2.2m in 2013/14)
  • Patients in Merseyside will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 1.5 million occasions (up from 1.3m in 2014)

Read: GPs to 'turn away patients over 50 million times'

GPs to 'turn away patients over 50 million times'

GP surgeries in England will turn away patients more than 50 million times next year as practices become increasingly overstretched, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned.

GP surgeries are becoming increasingly overstretched, medical professionals have warned.
GP surgeries are becoming increasingly overstretched, medical professionals have warned.

A lack of investment has brought the service to "its knees" as it struggles to meet patient demand, the professional medical body said.

Research of a recent patient survey predicted that patients may be turned away 51.3 million times next year.

Doctors' leaders said the figures were a "shocking indictment" of the system and warned the situation was only likely to get worse unless investment was increased.

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