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Diet-only treatment needs more vigour

The primary care tsar has urged pharmaceutical companies and PCOs to win over GPs' 'sceptical hearts and minds' with small-scale grassroots collaboration.

Dr David Colin-Thome's advice came in new guidance aimed at persuading PCOs of the benefits of drug company partnerships.

The document, jointly produced by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the NHS Alliance, claimed partnerships could cut referrals and improve patient care. It also admitted drug firms would benefit by 'reinforcing of appropriate prescribing of the company product'.

The guidance provides a 'framework checklist', to encourage openness in public-private partnerships.

It follows calls from GPs for a set of ethical rules to govern the controversial partnerships, after concerns that commercialistion of the NHS was happening by stealth.

The document claimed more than half of PCOs were already working with drug firms, citing projects involving dermatology, mental health and pain control in cancer.

Dr Ian Greaves, a GP in Gnossal, Staffordshire, was GP lead on a project called 'Seamless Care in Dermatology', which the document claimed had reduced specialist skin referrals by 13 per cent. He said: 'Nurse-run clinics have proved popular and improved patient education and compliance.'

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