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Has the primary care tsar got it all wrong?

Statins are being carried by an unstoppable momentum. Last week NHS prescribing advisers said they should be considered for all patients with diabetes. Now PCOs are being warned to gear up for NICE guidance on hyperlipidaemia later this year ­ with hints that the current treatment threshold may be lowered.

What no one seems to have considered is who will pay for it all, given the diabetes recommendation alone is set to cost £360 million each year. The NHS Alliance is adamant central money will have to be made available for cash-strapped PCOs, but the Department of Health has offered no indication that such money will be forthcoming.

It all adds up to a terrible financial mess, with GPs as usual bearing the brunt. If PCOs are expected to squeeze money for statins from their existing budgets, they will inevitably look for savings elsewhere: cue more dodgy prescribing incentive schemes and draconian drug directives.

The Department must provide central cash to plug the inevitable statins black-hole.

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