Chairman of Newham CCG and GP Dr Zuhair Zarifa on GPs and TB
- Credit: Archant
We know that tuberculosis (TB) is a big problem. Your local NHS, Newham Council, GP practices and pharmacies are all working hard to both raise awareness and tackle TB.
Many people carry TB but don’t have the disease. This is called a latent TB infection, or LTBI. People with LTBI may develop the disease at a later stage of their life – if it develops it is called active TB, which can be spread to others. Active TB can have a range of symptoms that include coughing up blood, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
Now patients in Newham who register at any GP practice and who fit certain criteria are screened for LTBI with a simple blood test. This test is part of the health check that everyone goes through when they sign up with a GP. The GP or practice nurse can also talk about the signs and symptoms of TB, which really helps raise awareness because more people know what to look for and where to go if they notice something isn’t right.
If the test for LTBI is positive, the patient’s GP will support them to choose the right treatment. Uniquely, treatment for LTBI is offered in 26 participating pharmacies in Newham. Traditionally people with LTBI had to go to the hospital for treatment. Local pharmacists support people with LTBI every step of the way and work with their GP if there are any concerns.
Registering with a GP is not only important for screening TB but for your general health. By registering with a GP practice you can stay up to date with screening and get access to NHS services in a timely manner. If you are not registered with a GP practice or you have recently moved into the borough now might be a good time to register with a GP.
You can find out about registering with a GP practice near your home by visiting the NHS Choices website: nhs.uk and entering your postcode. More from Dr Zarifa