News in brief 280907

Patients' legal challenge to practice closure
A planned challenge to Islington PCT over its closure of a single-handed practice on the death of the GP and dispersal of over 3,000 patients to nearby practices has been abandoned. A claim for judicial review was dropped after the claimants decided it was unlikely to rectify their situation. Two patients on the list of Dr Mrigendra Nandi at Medicine House, Finsbury Park, wanted to fight the practice closure, claiming they had not been properly consulted when the PCT shut the practice eight days after Dr Nandi's unexpected death.

'Back to work' teams in practices
The DoH could introduce 'back to work' teams into practices after proposals from the national director of health and work, Professor Dame Carol Black. In a review to be submitted in January 2008, Dame Carol will recommend that patients seeking a sick note be referred to a staff of nurses, physiotherapists and employment advisers.

Reform has not improved patient engagement
Patient engagement has not improved despite recent NHS reform, according to the findings of patient surveys. The Picker Institute report analysed trends from the national patient surveys in England from 2002 to 2007, during which time over 1.4 million patients had been surveyed. Despite a high level of patient satisfaction overall and improvements in nearly all other areas of primary care, 32 per cent of patients reported that they were not as involved as they wanted to be in decisions about their own treatment.

GPs tempted to Canada
Canadian recruiters have launched a drive to tempt UK GPs to emigrate. A booming economy has left the province of Alberta with a shortfall of GPs and officials are having to look overseas for well-trained doctors. The province has booked a stand at the BMJ's careers fair in London on 5 and 6 October. Pictured is Dr Keith Wycliffe-Jones, a former full-time GP in Inverness, Scotland, who found it easy to reduce his clinical workload in Canada.

Adults to become donors
All UK adults might be added to the organ donation list, unless they register their objection. Health secretary Alan Johnson has called for an enquiry into presumed consent for organ donation. The organ donation task force will now look at the moral and medical implications of viewing everyone as a potential donor.

HIV vaccine trials halted
Trials into a vaccine against HIV have been halted early. Merck & Co stopped a phase-II trial of the vaccine V520 after it proved ineffective because interim analysis showed that 24 of 741 volunteers who had been vaccinated tested positive for HIV.

Liaise with pharmacists on commissioning
Pharmacies and GPs need to get involved in practice-based commissioning (PBC) if it is to get off the ground, says the Improvement Foundation. The Foundation is holding workshops in Kent and Sussex to bring together community pharmacists, GPs from local PBC consortia/groups and PCT commissioners and pharmacy advisers.

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