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GPs frozen out of Government's vascular screening planning

By Nigel Praities

GPs are being frozen out of the planning process for the Government's vascular screening programme with PCTs turning to private firms and pharmacists instead.

CHD leads believe the failure of trusts to consult with GPs threatens to leave practices with surging workload but little say in how it is managed.

Speakers at the annual meeting of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society warned PCTs planned to commission private firms and pharmacists to deliver checks, but that it would GPs who had to deal with the surge in high-risk patients identified.

Trusts are preparing to roll-out vascular checks for everyone aged 40 to 74 years from next April. But Dr Terry McCormack, outgoing chair of the PCCS and a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said it looked like some PCTs might bypass GPs completely and use private providers to carry out the vascular screening.

‘Some PCTs are planning to use private providers or pharmacies, which is all well and good, but in some areas primary care is not being involved at all.

‘There is an assumption that GPs don't want to be involved but they are going to end up involved anyway as the patients with a high risk will be told to go see their GP.'

Pulse revealed in May that the Government was looking at diverting some of the £250 million funding for the programme away from practices to pharmacies and was in talks with some major high street pharmacy chains. But this is the first indication that PCTs are intending not to involve GPs in the programme at all.

Dr McCormack said the strength of feeling at the PCCS meeting was so strong it was about to begin a campaign to highlight the issue and urge GPs to make sure their PCT involves them in any risk assessments for the programme.

Dr Bill Beeby, chair of the GPC clinical and prescribing subcommittee, said GPs would become involved in the programme whoever carried out the screening and urged PCTs to consult GPs on its roll-out.

‘I think to exclude GPs entirely would be foolish in the long-run. As part of the vascular screening programme, patients are going to be referred back to their GPs with abnormalities so it is essential that PCTs talk with GPs about how that referral process is going to work,' he said.

CV screening: GPs set to do the work but frozen out of planning process CV screening: GPs set to do the work but frozen out of planning process

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