Health MOTs 'will not swamp GPs'
Offering health MOTs to patients who feel they are at risk of heart disease can identify those who need treatment without swamping GPs, researchers claim.
A nurse-run scheme asked patients to judge their own risk and attend a community clinic if they answered Yes to any of five simple questions.
The scheme, similar to those the Government has considered for its Community Health White Paper, was reasonably effective at identifying those who most needed treatment. Almost half of men and 16 per cent of women who attended the clinics had a 20 per cent or higher risk of a heart attack over 10 years.
GPs said the scheme was one way to identify the huge numbers of patients who will soon be eligible for statins under new NICE guidance. But they said the health-conscious middle-classes would benefit most.
Project leader Monica Harries, a CHD nurse specialist at Caerphilly local health board, said GPs had welcomed the scheme: 'Community-based primary prevention is feasible and successful in detecting patients at risk of CHD that would not otherwise be known to their GPs.'
Professor Mike Kirby, professor of primary care at the University of Hertfordshire and a GP in Letchworth, warned that nurse-led clinics would be the only way to cope with the requirements of the new NICE guidance.
'This [study] is encouraging but reinforces the notion that we are dealing with the tip of the iceberg. The NHS has always been bad at spending now to save later and we need to be resourced.'
Under the scheme, research-ers sent 'birthday cards' to patients identified from practice lists who were 45 to 64 and with no diagnosis of CHD, hypertension or terminal illness.
But Dr John Ashcroft, CHD lead for Erewash PCT and a GP in Tibshelf, Derbyshire, warned such schemes could miss out those most at risk as it would be the middle-classes who came forward.
Interim results were presented at the NICE conference in Birmingham last week.
· Have you ever had high BP?
· Have you ever been told you have high cholesterol?
· Do you smoke now or have you in the past 15 years?
· Has your mother, father, brother or sister ever had heart problems before they were 60?
· If you put the enclosed string around your waist is it too short?