Inside Health

BBC Radio 4


Dr Mark Porter demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice, with the help of regular contributor GP Margaret McCartney


Future of 7-day GP Access Pilots, Mers, Laughing Gas Health Risks

June 23rd, 2015

Episode 283 of 345 episodes

Across England, selected GP surgeries are trialling 7-day working, but there are reports that take-up has been so low in some areas, particularly on Sundays, that pilots have been abandoned. Dr Margaret McCartney and Dr Mark Porter investigate where the pressure for extended opening hours is coming from. Mark visits Herefordshire where Taurus Healthcare, a federation of local GPs, is running a late night/weekend service. Managing Director Graeme Cleland describes the high take-up of the service after an initial slow start, and says new patients have been treated, showing previously latent demand in the system. Mike Dando is a wheelchair user with spina bifida and diabetes, and before the pilot started a year ago, he would have to wait in all day for a district nurse to dress his ulcerated legs. Now he just makes an appointment at a time convenient for him. But at the end of this year the seed money provided by the Prime Minister's Challenge Fund runs out, so what will happen to the Herefordshire pilot? Chair of the local Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Andy Watts, says without extra funding, the pilot service is unlikely to continue and deputy chair of the BMA's GP Committee, Dr Richard Vautrey, calls for investment in current GP practices rather than expensive additional services. Doctors in the UK have been warned by public health officials to be on the lookout for people who become ill after travelling to South Korea. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has killed 27 people in the region and there are 174 confirmed cases of the disease. Nearly five hundred people have died worldwide after the virus first emerged three years ago, in Saudia Arabia. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, describes how coronaviruses like MERS (and SARS) jump to humans via an intermediary animal. In the case of MERS, that's via the Dromedary camel. Nitrous Oxide or laughing gas has a long history of recreational use but in recent years, there's been an exponential growth in use among teenagers and young people. Founder of the Psychedelic Society, Stephen Reid, describes the physical effects of laughing gas and tells Mark why he believes the gas shouldn't form part of the government's planned clampdown on legal highs. But Dr Paul Seddon, respiratory paediatrician from Queen Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton, warns that increased use could mean increased health problems, like the case of the teenager girl with a collapsed lung admitted to his hospital after inhaling the gas. Producer: Fiona Hill.

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