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26-07-2010 | Article

Weekly News Roundup

In this week's roundup of the news, Dr Harry Brown discusses:

* GPs are at the forefront of (yet another) radical shake up of the NHS, but are GPs ready for it and will it work? An expert has his doubts and so do I. This debate will rumble on for many months to come.

* With new guidance available to help GPs advise their patients with cardiovascular problems about fitness to fly, there should be more clarity in this area.

* Vaccinating against future risk of developing cervical cancer with HPV vaccine could be even more successful than originally anticipated, according to newly published research.

GPs at the helm

It's one of the biggest GP news stories of the year and one that will run and run, possibly for years to come. It's the latest of many reorganisations of the NHS but this proposal is fairly radical and puts GPs firmly in the driving seat. With the abolition of Primary Care Trusts, groups of GPs will take on the role of commissioning. Although it is nice to have power, are GPs suitable people to control this vast commissioning budget? Well according to an expert from Manchester Business School writing in the British Medical Journal and reported in the univadis GP News service (click here) this is not going to be plain sailing. He is worried about the cost and complexity of this reform and questions whether GPs really want a contract change. I actually agree with him, we are definitely in uncharted waters and no one really knows where this will end up - watch this space!

Fit to fly

Would you tell a patient, albeit considered low risk, that they are fit to fly in a commercial aircraft just 3 days after they've had a myocardial infarction? I would guess that many of us would say no or refer them to their cardiologist. However, the answer could well be yes, according to new guidance highlighted in a news article last week (click here). Hopefully this guidance on cardiovascular fitness to fly will offer some clarity to GPs when put on the spot.

Battling cervical cancer

Who would have thought just a few years ago that there would be an effective vaccine against cervical cancer? Well not only is one being used in everyday clinical practice but there is also now evidence that it could be even more effective than originally anticipated. As reported in the univadis GP news service (click here) recent research has suggested that higher numbers of cervical cancer are associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) 16 or HPV 18 than previously thought. These are the HPV strains targeted by the current vaccine in use. Projecting forwards, it is thought that HPV vaccination could make a significant impact on future incidence of cervical cancer. If these predictions do come true, this would be a major medical breakthrough and should inspire us to make sure that our target group is fully immunised.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief

By Dr Harry Brown