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GP osteoporosis funding set to run until 2011

By Nigel Praities

The Government plans to extend funding for GPs to identify and treat patients with osteoporosis.

A DES for osteoporosis was introduced in 2008 and was due to last for only two years, but funding is now set to be extended to 2011.

It was agreed in response to Government-backed studies branding osteoporosis care a ‘national disgrace', but GPs say the targets are ‘unachievable' and that take-up has been low.

In a parliamentary statement, health minister Ann Keen said an extension of the DES was ‘being considered' as part of the ongoing 2010/11 contract negotiations between NHS Employers and the GPC.

The DES incentivises practices to maintain a fragility fracture register and prescribe bone-sparing agents in older women.

But Dr Alun Cooper, a GPSI in osteoporosis in Crawley, West Sussex, criticised the DES as a failure: ‘The DES is a joke. It is a huge amount of work for very little money and the targets are unachievable. Anecdotally, very few practices are doing it.

‘Osteoporosis needs a systematic approach - it should be in the QOF,' he said.

His comments came as Pulse learned that a coalition of about 20 medical organisations – including the National Osteoporosis Society and the British Society for Rheumatology – have submitted a proposal to NICE for new osteoporosis indicators in the QOF.

The submission recommends points for carrying out a falls assessment in patients with a fragility fracture, referring patients after a fall and supplementation for calcium and vitamin D3.

GP osteoporosis funding is set to be extended GP osteoporosis funding is set to be extended

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