Young women avoid discussing sexual health with GPs because of fear of saying ‘vagina’

Young women are avoiding going to a GP for gynaecological issues because of ‘embarrassment’ and ‘fear of intimate examination’, a new study has revealed.

Instead of seeking help from a doctor, more than half (57%) would turn to Google, with another one in five preferring to confide in their mums.

In a survey of 1000 women, those aged 18-24 were four times less likely to go to a doctor with a sexual health issue than their 55-64 year old counterparts.

Two thirds of young women were embarrassed to say the word ‘vagina’ (66%) or ‘orgasm’ (64%), with over half being embarrassed about ‘labia’ (60%) and ‘discharge’ (56%).

Nearly half avoided going to the doctor because of being scared of being intimately examined (48%) or being embarrassed to talk about sexual health issues (44%). Some 26% didn’t seek professional help because of not knowing what words to use.

The embarrassment factor dropped considerably among older participants, with just one in 10 (11%) aged over 65 saying they would be shy saying ‘vagina’ to a healthcare professional.

Katherine Taylor, acting chief executive at Ovarian Cancer Action who led the study, said: ‘The reluctance to see a doctor for gynaecological issues is really worrying and, while many of us have turned to the internet for help, googling symptoms is not a substitute for proper medical attention.

‘Illnesses such as ovarian cancer – which kills a woman every two hours in the UK – is much easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early, so it’s incredibly important that women feel empowered to talk about their health and feel comfortable visiting healthcare professionals.’

‘It’s so important that women are empowered to discuss these issues. Saying vagina won’t kill you, but avoiding saying it could.’

Originally published by Pulse.

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GPs to star in BBC documentary

GPs in the Peak District will be the stars of a new TV show airing this September, after allowing BBC cameras to follow them around for the last year.

The two-part documentary ‘The Real Peak Practice’ promises to shine a light on the everyday struggles of general practice including problems with recruiting new GPs and keeping elderly patients out of hospital.

Focused around the Baslow Health Centre, a rural practice where almost one of three patients is over 65, the show is narrated by TV actor Dominic West, especially known for starring in US TV drama The Wire but also a native of the nearby village of Grindleford.

The documentary follows GP partner Dr Louise Jordan in her work at the practice as well as for local end-of-life care charity the St Helen’s Trust, where she is a trustee.

The BBC’s executive producer on the show, Sally Bowman, said its production had been ‘a humbling experience’.

She said: ‘The team at Baslow Health Centre are so dedicated to their patients and determined to do their best in sometimes very difficult circumstances.

‘We know that 90% of patient contacts with the NHS are through their family doctor but television tends to concentrate on the dramas of A&E. Over the past year I’ve learnt that there is just as much drama behind the scenes of primary care and just as many unsung heroes too.’

The show follows rival Channel 5’s series ‘GPs: Behind Closed Doors’ which aired last year.

Originally published by Pulse.

Bin practice boundaries altogether, says think-tank

GP practice boundaries should be disposed of completely and patients allowed to register with any CCG in the country, accessing all primary care providers within that region, according to a new report by the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank.

The report published today, ‘A Patient Approach: Putting the consumer at the heart of UK healthcare’ discussion paper, calls for an NHS overhaul to allow CCGs to privatise, specialise and ‘compete’ for patients, through merging and demerging with other CCGs.

As a result, patients should be able to ‘choose freely among primary care providers, it says.

The Government has already introduced its ‘patient choice’ scheme, which allows practices to open up their boundaries and take on patients from out of areas.

As previously reported by Pulse, only 10,000 patients have registered with a GP away from their home since practice boundaries were abolished in October 2014, despite original claims from the Department of Health that up to 6% of patients were keen on moving to practices closer to their work.

But the IEA says that the Government should go further, and allow all patients to choose practices across the country, without practices opting in to the scheme.

The report says: ‘The whole concept of “catchment areas” should be abolished. Patients should be able to register directly with any CCG they see fit, and choose freely among primary care providers. Meanwhile, CCGs should be able to operate nationally, and to merge and de-merge with other CCGs, as well as provider organisations. CCGs would effectively become social health insurers, and the sector should be opened to private insurers as well.’

The think-tank also said it was ‘very much an open question’ whether GPs are the best people to lead CCGs.

Instead, it recommends an ‘internal market’ in which ‘optimal size and scope’ of the CCGs would be discovered through a competitive process.

The report adds that this approach ‘would mean the end of political reorganisations, and the beginning of reorganisation by the market’.

Originally published by Pulse.

Practices to take on minor injuries work as plans for specialist unit are shelved

GPs in South Gloucestershire are likely to deal with minor injuries including minor fractures, minor burns and scalds as part of a pilot scheme, after the health secretary vetoed plans for a minor injury unit in a local hospital.

NHS South Gloucestershire CCG said that, under its proposals, ‘additional staffing and resources will be put in place to provide the necessary extra capacity’ so minor injuries services could be delivered by practice-based nurses supported by GPs.

It comes after Jeremy Hunt decided in June that a proposed unit at the Cossham Hospital would not be built, despite 18,000 residents signing a petition in favour of it, and 250 people demonstrating at the council offices in Kingswood.

The CCG announced the plans this week, which would see practices treating injuries including sprains and strains, cuts and grazes, minor fractures, minor burns and scalds, bites, minor eye injuries and minor head injuries.

It would not treat those needing plastering or crutches, or experiencing severe breathlessness, severe abdominal paint, severe chest pain or strokes.

The services would be available within normal GP opening hours, from 8.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday, though the CCG is considering extending the service to outside of these hours.

NHS South Gloucestershire CCG will make a formal decision on whether to proceed with the pilot in September.

Dr Ann Sephton, deputy clinical chair and lead for emergency and urgent care at NHS South Gloucestershire CCG, said: ‘People have told us they want better access to their GP practices and better access to urgent care services in the community. This new service aims to deliver both – through a GP practice-based model delivered at surgeries throughout South Gloucestershire.

‘We believe our proposal is the best and most cost-effective option for improving local access to minor injury services in South Gloucestershire.’

Originally published by Pulse.