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Care expanded for heart failure

GPs will have to treat twice as many patients as previously to hit the new quality indicators for heart failure, the QOF guidance reveals.

From April, practices will be expected to enter all patients with suspected heart failure on their practice registers, where previously only those with CHD and left ventricular dysfunction were included.

The guidance marks a major focus on heart failure care. The top threshold for the percentage of heart failure patients given ACE inhibitors or angio-tensin receptor blockers has risen 10 per cent, making the target significantly harder to hit for many practices.

It follows recent criticism of GP care for heart failure.

Last year, the SHAPE study found UK GPs were the worst in Europe for their use of ACE inhibitors and ?-blockers, while the Healthcare Commission announced plans to audit GPs' prescribing.

Dr Gerald Partridge, GPSI in echocardiography and heart failure and a GP in Keighley, West Yorkshire, said he supported the widening of register criteria to include those with suspected heart failure, but felt the changes could have gone further.

'I'd like to have seen evidence-based ?-blockers in heart failure. We do know there are survival benefits over and above ACE inhibitors.'

NHS Employers said: 'The expert panel reported heart failure represents the only major cardiovascular disease with increasing prevalence. On the basis of this, the negotiators decided heart failure should become an indicator set in its own right.'

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