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Annual QOF checks 'risk turning healthy elderly into patients'

By Steve Nowottny

Annual health checks incentivised under the QOF risk turning many healthy elderly people into patients, a leading cardiologist warned today.

In a BMJ editorial published this week, Professor Michael Oliver, from the University of Edinburgh, claims that many over-75s are subject to unnecessary investigations or treatment as a result of a ‘tick box' culture in general practice.

Professor Oliver warns that ‘scant attention' is paid to the side effects of preventative treatments such as ? blockers and statins.

‘The actual evidence for the benefit of treating any risk factor in those aged over 75 needs much more careful consideration when applied to an individual,' he writes. ‘It seems that many Western governments regard all people aged over 75 as patients.'

‘This trend has many causes. These include overenthusiastic and uncritical interpretation of various guidelines, the payment of GPs by NHS trusts for ticking boxes, the demands of government health economics and of insurance companies, and the relentless pressure from the drug industry.'

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