Daily digest April 1 2015

Missed the news? Read our summary of the latest health stories here

Paracetamol is ‘no use’ against lower back pain

Millions of people advised by their GP to take paracetamol to relieve lower back pain and osteo-arthritis have been wasting their time, researchers claim.

The Express reports that an extensive study has found that the over-the-counter drug is ineffective for pain concentrated in the lower spine.

Researchers at the University of Sydney's George Institute for Global Health in Australia found that paracetamol offers ‘small, but not clinically important benefits’ for people with osteoarthritis.

Read more on the Express website: click here

Patients at risk of heart disease could be offered dementia tests

People over 60 who drink, smoke or who are obese and are classed as being at risk of heart disease could be offered dementia tests under new NHS guidelines, according to the Times.

GPs have protested against the NHS England guidance, which says that they should consider assessing people for dementia if they are ‘more likely’ to develop heart disease. Doctors said the plans could lead to patients being wrongly labelled as having dementia by inaccurate tests, and waste GPs’ time

(£) Read more on the Times website: click here

Emergency department presentations fall when GP surgeries open seven days a week

Opening GP surgeries at weekends would mean two million fewer patients waiting in the emergency department every year, Mail Online reports.

Research indicates that the number of visits to casualty dropped by 8% in areas where patients can see family doctors seven days a week.

Academics at the University of Sussex looked at emergency department attendances at the NHS Central London Clinical Commissioning Group, which covers 34 GP practices.

Four of the surgeries offer weekend appointments to all patients as part of a government pilot project launched in 2013. The research found that, on average, the number of patients arriving at emergency departments dropped by 8% – up to a 10% reduction at weekends.

Read the story on the Mail Online website: click here

34 million failures to get a GP appointment last year

Booking an appointment with the local GP is getting more difficult every year, according to a national patient survey.

Figures reported in the Mirror suggest that people failed to get an appointment 34 million times last year.

An analysis of the survey, published today in the British Medical Journal, shows that only 88.8% of patients were able to book a slot in 2013/14.

Read the story on the Mirror's website: click here

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