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£3.5m for US to show GPs the way

The Government is spending £3.5 million to hire US consultants to show primary care trusts how to improve GP care of the elderly, writes Ian Cameron.

The Evercare project ­ pion- eered by US health management organisation United Health Group ­ is being piloted in 10 PCTs over the next 18 months. GPs will act as mentors to train nurse practitioners to cut emergency admissions, reduce the adverse effects of poly-drug regimes and provide a more accessible primary care service.

The Department of Health has already spent £360,000 flying six United staff on three trips to the UK and £35,000 flying PCT staff to Minnesota.

Each PCT will now receive £350,000 to pay United for 'hands-on support' ­ consultancy, advice and training. The PCTs will then get an average £73,000 each to 'support, sustain and embed' the pilot.

The department said the scheme had proved cost-effective in the US but GPs involved in the pilots baulked at the cost. Cleveland LMC secretary Dr John Canning said: 'The start-up costs seem phenomenal. One wonders if it's good value for money.'

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