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Gabapentin and pregabalin set to become controlled drugs

Sarah J

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Gabapentinoids, like gabapentin and pregabalin, are set to become controlled drugs, after a spike in the number of related deaths.

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The medication is set to become a ‘Class-C’ controlled medication after evidence has shown a significant increase in the number of related deaths and several studies that have warned healthcare professionals about the adverse effects of the medication.

Offical figures show there were 111 deaths related to pregabalin and 59 related to gabapentin in 2016.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) wrote to the Home Office in January 2016 calling for the drugs to be controlled, warning that ‘pregabalin and gabapentin present a risk of addiction and a potential for illegal diversion and medicinal misuse’.

Dr Steve Brinksman, Clinical Director of the drug and alcohol treatment professionals group SMMP, said;

“They have psychotropic effects, which means patients are likely to continue taking them even if they are not proving effective. They probably do have a withdrawal effect – though that has not been proven conclusively yet”.

Sarah Newton, a Home Office Minister told Pulse that the Government had accepted recommendations from advisers to make gabapentinoids a class C drug, subject to a consultation.

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Primary Care

NHS trusts pressuring staff to help meet vaccination targets

Sarah J

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Front-line staff are reporting that NHS trusts are pressuring staff into receiving the influenza vaccine in order to achieve governmental targets.

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Front-line NHS staff claim they are getting ever-increasing pressure to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine as cash-strapped NHS trusts strive to hit the ‘Flu Fighter’ CQUIN, which provides significant financial incentives for trusts who vaccinate a proportion of their staff.

This news follows last weeks announcement that NHS England will write to all healthcare workers reminding them of their “professional duty” to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine.

One member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims she was forced to sign a ‘Declination of Influenza Vaccine‘ document by their NHS Trust which states refusal of the vaccine may have ‘life-threatening’ consequences and asks for the reason for refusal.

A spokesperson for NursingNotes said;

“While receiving the vaccine is an important part of infection control, like any patient, staff must provide informed consent and have a right to refuse the vaccination”.

A spokesperson for the RCN said:

“We encourage all nursing staff to have the vaccine. It plays an important part in infection control and preventing sickness absence”.

The NHS Employers ‘Flu Fighter’ campaign is part of an initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS employees.

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Patients could be banned from A&E unless a healthcare professional refers them

Ian Snug

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The “talk before you walk” scheme could see patients barred from using A&E without first seeking healthcare advice elsewhere.

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Under “talk before you walk” proposals, patients would need to gain approval from either their GP or the NHS 111 advice line before self-presenting to an accident and emergency department and could be turned away without this.

The scheme is intended to improve compliance of the 4-hour target by sign-posting patients to more appropriate services.

The news comes as health services prepare, for what many experts claim will be, the “worst winter on record” for emergency care services.

Dr Helen Thomas, National Medical Advisor for Integrated Urgent Care at NHS England, said:

“Jeremy Hunt has mentioned to some of my colleagues, maybe we should have a ‘talk before you walk’ and we may well pilot that.

“I think it’s been done in other countries where they’ve actually said you can’t come to the emergency department until you’ve talked on referral or you have to have that sort of docket that you’re given by having talked down the phone and being told you should come in.”

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said forcing ill patients to go through an extra layer of bureaucracy would cause further delays and could compromise emergency care pathways.

A spokesman for NHS England said there were no current plans to go ahead with the scheme.

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