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GPs have forced a PCT to scrap a controversial variation on the quality framework after accusing it of cost-cutting and endangering patients' lives.

Swindon PCT set up the scheme in January, allowing GPs to earn quality points for CHD without getting patients to the contract target for cholesterol.

It said GPs could exception report any patient not brought to target by 80mg simvastatin without trying other statins, arguing there was 'no need for aggressive prescribing'.

But the trust has been forced to write to GPs to cancel the scheme after the LMC insisted this kind of 'local flexibility' was not allowed.

Dr Gavin Jamie, a Swindon GP and one of those who complained, said: 'The exemption in the contract says the patient is on the maximum tolerated dose. We'd always assumed it was the maximum dose tolerated by the patient, not the PCT.'

But elsewhere Trent strategic health authority is defying Government instructions and refusing to intervene to prevent a similar scheme at North East Derbyshire PCT. It said it was 'confident' the policy was 'evidence based'.

The PCT is letting GPs exception report patients with initial cholesterol below 6.2mmol/l without retesting and those not brought to target by simvastatin.

Dr Terry McCormack, vice-chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said trusts were using new evidence as an 'excuse for trying to save money rather than treat patients properly'.

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