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'Blood pressure pay targets are unethical'

Dr Peter Brindle believes it is unethical to pay GPs for hitting 'ridiculous' blood pressure targets under the quality and outcomes framework.

Dr Brindle, who has had several papers on coronary heart disease risk published in the BMJ, said: 'The evidence for community treatment of hypertension is quite weak so paying GPs to meet targets for this is ethically worrying.'

Dr Brindle, clinical research fellow at the University of Bristol and a GP in the city, added: 'As GPs we frame the risk for the patient in terms of preventing heart attacks. If you told a patient the number needed to treat was somewhere between 13 and 45 they would be reluctant to take the drugs. Hypertension is a risk factor, not a disease. There is no mention of a global risk assessment – just a target for blood pressure.'

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