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GP statistics reveal gaps in recruitment

New guidelines will have a dramatic impact on the treatment of hypertension ­ Emma Wilkinson reports

The number of black patients treated for hypertension will leap by a fifth under Joint British Societies guidelines due out later this year, researchers predict.

The JBS is set to endorse the British Hypertension Society's view that risk assessment should be based on cardiovascular disease and not CHD.

But researchers warned that while the switch will have long-term benefits for preventing strokes, in the short-term it could severely squeeze prescribing budgets.

They called for extra funds for ethnically mixed PCOs.

Their study, which assessed CHD and CVD risk in 1,000 Londoners, found the change would not affect white or Asian patients, but would increase the number of black patients treated by 20 per cent.

It would prevent three times as many extra fatal strokes in black as in white or Asian patients.

Research leader Professor Francesco Cappuccio, head of the department of community sciences at St George's Medical School, said: 'There's plenty of evidence that black patients are three times more likely to have a stroke and get it 12 years younger. That's evidence enough that hypertension should be taken seriously.'

But he warned that PCTs with high black populations 'might need extra resources to face the challenge'.

He attacked NICE guidelines for failing to take ethnicity into account, saying: 'It's ignoring an extremely important point. Some practices, especially in London, have up to 50 per cent black patients.'

Dr Gillian Braunold, a GP in Kilburn, north London, said the new guidance was yet another thing to add to prescribing pressures.

'There is not enough money in prescribing in the first place,' she said. 'It's not a problem in terms of what you do for patients but it is in terms of managing the process.'

Dr Clare Stannard, a GP in Lambeth, south London, said her practice was trying to move towards the new guidance, but it was 'daunting'.

The study is published online in the Journal of Human Hypertension this week.

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