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GPs will face much tougher scrutiny of their heart failure care from April as part of a Government drive to force up standards.

Heart tsar Dr Roger Boyle told Pulse Government inspectors would be monitoring heart failure interventions in order to uncover evidence of under-treatment.

And the period between a patient visiting their GP and receiving a diagnostic echo-cardiogram would become a 'measured waiting time'. Dr Boyle told Pulse: 'There does need to be a sharper

focus on heart failure and that's what we are trying to do.'

Last week, a major study criticised GPs for underusing ?-blockers and ACE inhibitors and for diagnosing heart failure by signs and symptoms alone.

Dr Boyle said echo capacity was now sufficient to cope with referrals after a £60 million investment, although he admitted there were still shortages in staff to operate the machines.

Meanwhile the Healthcare Commission said it would follow a February report on implementation of CHD guidelines with a comprehensive 'improvement review' of heart failure services.

A spokeswoman said: 'We are very much aware that there are problems with heart failure services. It's on our radar.'

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