Pharmacists to take on GP appointments

By Viktoria Yordanova

More than 20 000 pharmacists and physiotherapists will take over GP appointments in a bid to cut NHS waiting lists.

The changes aim to free up doctors to treat more patients with serious conditions, as the new staff will take responsibility of some of the 300 million GP bookings made each year. The five-year NHS plan was agreed with the British Medical Association.

Patients calling their surgery to make an appointment will be questioned by receptionists about the nature and symptoms of their illness. If it is concluded that a patient’s condition is not serious enough to be treated by a GP, people will be offered a slot to see a pharmacists or a paramedic instead.

‘The NHS plan will definitely help ease pressure off doctors. The waiting lists will become shorter and people will not have to schedule their illness for a convenient appointment slot, while their condition is getting worse. Patients will simply not wait for days or sometimes weeks to see a doctor’, said Nicholas, 58, a local GP.

The average appointments lasts about eight minutes, which according to GPs is not enough to deal with the diseases patients suffer from, thus more health workers need to be employed.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England said that the revolutionary NHS plan ‘represents the biggest boost to general practice in more than 15 years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services.’

Along with paramedics, medical assistants and support workers will be among the 20 000 workers that will be employed to handle routine cases.

Officials say that pharmacists could be engaged with detailed medicines reviews and routine follow-ups of patients after operation, while community paramedics are expected to carry out home visits, thus saving the elderly population from going to hospitals.

The workforce will also include ‘social prescribers’, who will work to deal with non-medical problems like loneliness.

‘This package sets us on the road to rebuilding not only general practice but also the wider primary health care team, delivering an expanded workforce embedded within practices and giving GPs a leadership role in bringing together the community healthcare team,’ said Dr Richard Vautrey, the chairman of the  British Medical Association GP committee.

Under the new NHS plan, doctors will be prohibited from advertising any private services or running them from their surgery. The new ban follows after numerous concerns that the line between the NHS and private practice is getting blurred.

 ‘If implemented correctly, this contract could cultivate a profession that future doctors are eager to join,’ says Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard

In order to implement the changes, NHS will invest an extra £4.5billion into GP surgeries over the next five years. The money will also be used for setting up Skype appointments and providing additional evening and weekend GP slots.

‘If implemented correctly, this contract could cultivate a profession that future doctors are eager to join, and where existing GPs want to remain and can enjoy working,’ said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs.

However, some patients remain uncertain about seeing a health worker who does not have the same qualifications as their GP.

 ‘Employing extra health workers might indeed improve services and make waiting lists shorter. But what will happen if paramedic and physios miss symptoms of dangerous diseases only doctors are able to detect in early stage?’, said Carla Bertoncelli, a student from the University of Essex.

However, Dr Richard Vautrey is confident that ‘these widespread changes will deliver the best not just for GPs across England, but also for the patients they treat on a daily basis’.

The recruitment plan will be finished by 2023-24.

Colchester still have slim play-off chance

By Mark Murphy

League Two will hold its final fixtures this weekend, one of the main talking points going in is who will achieve that final play-off spot? Colchester United face an away trip to title winners Lincoln City with the possibility of achieving the final play-off spot (if results go their way) With the Newport County vs Oldham Athletic finishing 2-0 on Tuesday, this puts even more pressure on Colchester who even before had to win.

What happened the last time the sides met in the league? When the two sides met earlier in the season it was United that were 1-0 winners thanks to a Frankie Kent rebound goal in the 28thminute. This win put them one point off the top three, unfortunately the situation is somewhat different now with Colchester potentially not even making the play-offs.

I spoke to Bryn Griffiths a passionate Colchester United fan and occasional Colne Radio football pundit. He expects a tough game against the league leaders, in fact in his mind fans were always in his words “gulping” about having to face Lincoln on the last day. However, he does expect United to be up for it and really go for the victory. Griffiths like most of the Colchester fandom have immense respect for the Cowley brothers and what they’ve achieved at Lincoln City (the Cowley’s used to manage nearby side Braintree Town).

When asking him about some of the players to keep an eye on for Colchester, he firstly highlighted 22-year-old Ethan Ross. He’s been third choice keeper for United, but since Dillion Barnes’ sending off against Yeovil he’s been given the chance and kept a clean sheet against MK Dons last weekend. Griffiths stated that the game could rest in his hands.

Additionally, Frankie Kent was also praised by Griffiths and was highlighted as another player to look out for. With Kent being described by Bryn as “the classiest player at Col U”, his calmness and discipline was also commended, and Griffiths concluded his opinions on Kent by saying of all the players at Colchester he has the “most promise”.

As for a prediction Griffiths said that he couldn’t see United not conceding and went for a 2-1 victory for Colchester.

If you want to follow Bryn Griffiths on Twitter, his handle is ‘@ColUBryn’. In addition, you can listen to previous shows that Bryn has conducted with his co-host Bill here:

Southend pray for last-day salvation

By Ryan Gladwyn

Over 2,000 Black Cats will head down to Southend on Saturday for the final game of the season. Southend United must win to guarantee safety and Sunderland will want to secure three points to make the playoffs as easy as possible.

Southend fan Alex, 16, shared his thoughts on the importance of the clash: “I think it might be the biggest game since Wembley. We could lose key players if we go down”.

The last time these two teams met Sunderland came out on top with a 3-0 victory.

Chief sports reporter for Southend Echo, Chris Phillips, said: “all the statistics and form point towards a Sunderland win but it would be typical Southend if they went and won so fingers crossed that can happen”.

With Sunderland favourites, Southend will want to put out their best squad. Blues boss Kevin Bond is tempted to bring Stephen Humphrys back into the fray.

“Stephen isn’t fully fit but he does offer us something different”, he said earlier this week.

The two teams will kick off at Roots Hall this Saturday at 5:30pm.

Orient celebrate return to league

By Conor O’Mahoney

Leyton Orient have returned to the football league having won the conference, pipping Solihull Moors to the title by 3 points.

Orient were administration-bound after falling £5 million in debt a few years ago as well having unpaid taxes in excess of £200,000 owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a fault which could be attributed to owner Francesco Becchetti. Leyton Orient were on the verge of promotion to the championship in 2014, narrowly missing out after a loss on penalties to Rotherham in the play-off final but since then, their decline has been swift. The 16/17 season saw Orient’s relegation to non-league following a 112-year stay in the football league. In between their 2 relegations from League One to non-league, Orient went through 12 managers exacerbating their struggles both on and off the pitch.

To overcome the obstacle of impending extinction to their revival, and subsequent promotion back to the football league is a monumental achievement; one of those stories that make you fall in love with football, and new owner Nigel Travis seems to have more faith in his managers.

The O’s enjoyed a stellar season losing just 7 of their 46 games, winning 25 of those. Orient enjoyed an excellent end to the season also, winning 3 of their last 6 games, and drawing the other 3; cementing their position in the football league, and ultimately being crowned champions.  Orient also secured their place in the EFL trophy final, where they will play Fylde on May 19th, having beaten AFC Telford United 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-final. A victory in the EFL trophy would be a great end to what has been an extremely successful season for Leyton Orient; let’s hope they can continue in the same vein in the football league next year.

Town hope for happy end to dire season

By Jordan Bigmore

Ipswich will look to end a dark season on a bright note as Leeds United visit Portman Road.

With relegation already confirmed defeat last time out to newly promoted Sheffield United just added to the misery felt by all Ipswich fans as they were outclassed throughout the game.

Following a controversial game against Aston Villa which ended in Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa telling his team to allow their opposition to score a goal, a 1-1 draw meant their automatic promotion push was over and will settle for a place in the play offs.

As for the team news, Town are still sweating on the fitness of Jon Nolan and Gwion Edwards with both missing the Sheffield United game. Kayden Jackson and Will Keane were both forced off during the Sheffield United game though injury and are both unlikely to play.

For Leeds, their star striker Kemar Roofe is a doubt with a hip injury while Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas will also miss the game with knee injuries.

The game comes after Ipswich announced their new season ticket prices with reductions of between 12 and 15 per cent. The club have also introduced ‘Town Targets’, if 12,00 season tickets are sold before the Early Bird deadline on the 6th May prices will drop another 10 per cent. If 14,000 season tickets are sold there will be an extra 20 per cent drop. Ipswich have already sold over 10,000 season tickets for the new campaign.

There have also been reports that Leeds are brining thousands of fans down to Ipswich, meaning the club have had to take measures to stop them buying tickets in the home end and Town have already increased the allocation by another 2,000.