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GP alarm at personal care plans for 15 million patients

By Nigel Praities

GPs have expressed alarm at the added workload of giving all 15 million patients with long-term conditions personal care plans in the next two years.

Their concern comes after the Government made personal care plans a central plank of its overhaul of primary care.

By 2010, patients of all ages with a chronic condition, including those with mental health problems, will agree ‘goals' and services with their GP, carers or other healthcare professionals.

‘The roll out of care planning is central to providing greater choice for patients with long-term conditions, helping them choose the treatments, setting and providers that best suit their needs,' the strategy says.

But GPs are concerned the ambitious timescale of the plans will heap pressure on practices. Dr Patrick White, a GP in Lambeth, London, and senior lecturer in general practice and primary care at King's College London, said the plans were good ‘in principle' but hard work in practice.

‘If you take COPD, an average practice will have around 100 patients and there will be an additional 20 minutes annually you would have to spend with each patient to make these plans. If you multiply this across all chronic diseases it will be a substantial task,' he said.

Dr Adam Bajkowski, a GP in Wigan and president of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, said introducing personal care plans would be even more difficult for conditions not in QOF, such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

‘We just don't have the facilities to easily call these patients up and there is no agreed plan about what we should be doing with these patients anyway. These plans are not in the real world and come from someone who has never worked as a GP.'

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