A staggering 76 per cent of GPs are turning to the internet for diagnostic information and can be only a little more clued up than their patients on surprisingly common conditions, a medical survey has revealed.
The survey of GPs from across the UK into awareness of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) – both devastating neurological conditions which affect as many people in the UK as Parkinson’s disease – has revealed a minimal level of knowledge of PPS amongst first line health professionals and a startlingly heavy reliance on the web for information on the condition and its symptoms.
Research conducted by charity The British Polio Fellowship and to coincide with British Polio Month (1st – 31st July), also showed that 69 per cent of GPs rate their level of knowledge of PPS as low (ranking it as three out of 10 or below) – raising questions as to whether the NHS is failing some of its most vulnerable patients.
Ted Hill, chief executive of The British Polio Fellowship, comments: “We are concerned at the incredible percentage of GPs questioned who relied on search engines for information on Post Polio Syndrome.
“PPS affects over 120,000 people – as many as have Parkinson’s disease – and yet, unlike with Parkinson’s, someone presenting symptoms of PPS is currently reliant on their GP hitting Google – this isn’t the level of care that we believe the NHS should be providing.
“Lack of awareness of the condition amongst GPs is a problem faced by our members up and down the country. It’s not that GPs aren’t willing to help – we find that in the majority of cases, once PPS has been diagnosed by a neurologist following a referral, GPs are keen to research the condition and implement effective management strategies – it’s just that their initial knowledge is so very limited.
“This lack of knowledge extends not only to patient management post diagnosis, but to identifying the very symptoms of PPS. This creates issues with diagnosis and is resulting in unnecessary and expensive treatments such as hip replacement operations.
A medical practitioner with over 30 years’ experience comments: “Whilst Polio is an uncommon disease today, PPS is a definite entity and probably unrecognised. We [GPs] just don’t think about Polio.”
Hill continues: “There is a perception, even amongst health professionals, that Polio has been consigned to the history books – more than 90 per cent of GPs questioned felt Polio isn’t an issue in the UK today. We are working hard to change this perception. Raising awareness of PPS is crucial to ensuring that patients are receiving the very best level of care that the NHS is able to deliver.
“Would you feel happy being treated by someone who ranked their knowledge of your condition at three out of 10 at best?”
PPS is an incurable neurological condition which occurs in up to 80 per cent of people who have contracted Polio. After a long time without any significant change in their condition, people may develop new or increasing weakness, chronic fatigue and pain, and stamina problems.
The British Polio Fellowship is dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering those in theUK living with the effects of Polio and PPS. The British Polio Fellowship provides information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable people to live full independent and integrated lives.
In July The British Polio Fellowship is celebrating British Polio Month with events around the country to not only fundraise but also raise awareness of Polio and PPS.
For further information, please contact:
Emilie Whelan or Chrissie Walker
Tel: 0115 9486900
About the British Polio Fellowship
(A Registered charity in England and Wales(1108335), and in Scotland– (SCO38863))
The British Polio Fellowship seeks to empower and support all people in the UK living with the effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome by:
actively campaigning in support of their rights and needs and those of their carers
providing information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable people to live full independent and integrated lives and being the first resource on polio and Post Polio Syndrome.
supporting a Regional / Branch / Group structure that enables mutual support amongst members to be carried out in a caring and inclusive environment.
raising the profile of The British Polio Fellowship to enhance its effectiveness and to seek out all those who may benefit from our services.
developing worldwide alliances with other Polio and Post Polio groups for the mutual benefit of all its members.
The British Polio Fellowship is a charitable organisation that does not receive any government funding. It relies entirely on membership fees, donations and funding activities to continue providing these services.
Membership of the British Polio Fellowship is only £25.00 for life. Members benefit from a free support and information helpline, holiday, heating and welfare grants, an information library, the bi-monthly Bulletin magazine and can choose to be part of a number of expert panels.
Post Polio Syndrome is classified (G14) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a disease of the central nervous system that is “an irreversible and incurable clinical situation in relation to the progressive dysfunction of the motor units.”