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GPs slow to back 'expert patients'

A flagship Department of Health chronic disease management initiative is floundering because GPs have not been convinced of its benefits, a study reveals.

The Expert Patients Programme, set up in 2002, aims to recruit and train patients with a long-term illness to educate others with the same condition.

But a Government-funded evaluation of the programme found GPs needed more evidence of its positive outcomes.

The research by the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre at the University of Manchester also found PCOs had neglected it because it was 'a priority which could easily be ignored'.

Only 11 of the 62 PCOs piloting the programme had implemented it successfully.

Government funding ends in April, after which PCOs have to pay for it through their unified budgets.

Dr Jim Morris, a GP in Fressingfield, Suffolk, said four of his patients had benefited from the scheme and called on the Government to

advertise it more to GPs.

'It was a Government initiative so [it] should pay for it,' he said.

'I think the reason GPs do not refer patients to the programme is a lack of information.'

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