News in brief

Joint replacement patients getting younger

The average patient undergoing hip or knee joint replacement is now clinically obese and significantly younger than 10 years ago, according to a survey of orthopaedic surgeons. It found that BMIs averaged more than 30, with 72 per cent of surgeons saying BMIs had increased over the past five years. Nearly 90 per cent said their patients were younger than 10 years ago by an average of seven-and-a-half years. The survey was undertaken at the British Orthopaedic Association Congress.

Ethnic divide in mental illness
Some black and minority ethnic groups are three or more times more likely than average to be admitted as inpatients in mental health and learning disability services, according to the Healthcare Commission. The body's 'Count me in' census found that differences in rates of mental illness and pathways to hospital admission are caused by numerous and complex factors such as socio-economic factors, living alone and family and social support. The report recommends partnership working by GPs, local authorities, the criminal justice system and service providers.

Opinion sought on medical information storage
Social scientists at the University of York are to investigate public attitudes to the way medical information relating to hundreds of thousands of people is managed, particularly the rules governing third-party access to the data. The UK Biobank involves collecting blood and urine samples, plus health and lifestyle information, from 500,000 people and relating it to subsequent disease, cause of death and other factors over a period of 30 years. The use of data by third parties raises ethical questions.

Ankle arthroscopy website launched
An ankle arthroscopy website aiming to help GPs, trainee doctors and patients via articles and YouTube-hosted clips has been launched by surgeon Simon Moyes. The site has a surgeon's section with detailed information for use by GPs and trainee doctors and a separate section for patients to help them understand what happens when referred for ankle arthroscopy. See www.ankle-arthroscopy.co.uk for details.

Blood Pressure Association provides information
UK charity the Blood Pressure Association has launched a free resource to help GPs and nurses give newly-diagnosed patients a better understanding of high BP. It says this should lead to better management of the condition (www.bpassoc.org.uk).

iMac competition winner
Dr Asif Garda, a locum GP in Blackburn, Lancashire, has won the November GP competition. Apple is now preparing his iMac 24in screen with anodised aluminium frame, and adding iWorks, Office for Mac as well as OS X software.

Clarification
Guidance on dosage of ezetimibe and simvastatin included in the article 'Generic switch "more costly"' (GP, 7 Dec) refers to the ezetimibe and simvastatin combination tablet, rather than ezetimibe alone or as an add-on therapy, which was the focus of the appraisal. The cost of the combination pill 10mg ezetimibe/20mg simvastatin at £33.42 per 28 is not the lowest acquisition cost. Prescribing 10mg ezetimibe and 40mg simvastatin separately would cost £27.62, which is less expensive then a 28 pack of atorvastatin 40mg at £28.21.

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