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Poor patients 'ugly' to GPs

The Government is planning to add targets for managing obesity to the quality framework ­ despite widespread complaints over the dearth of any evidence to show GP interventions work.

GPs called the plans 'a disaster' and suggested ministers were trying to hijack the contract for political purposes

after a leading Department of Health official criticised the current framework and said the 2006 review would consider obesity targets.

Imogen Sharp, the department's head of health improvement and prevention, said: 'I am critical currently. We are looking into building obesity into the GP contract more robustly.

'Obesity is one of our top priorities in the next round of reviews. When the new contract comes out the targets will reflect current priorities.'

A Government spokesperson said there was potential for targets on recording BMI and managing obese patients.

But the GPC said it would need to see more evidence for obesity management before it would agree to its inclusion.

Dr Andrew Dearden, a GPC negotiator and chair of GPC Wales, said: 'There needs to be evidence that GP intervention will achieve something. Unless GPs follow patients around with a cattle prod 24/7, what can they do?'

Professor Martin Roland, academic adviser to the contract negotiations and director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, said he wanted evidence that prevention by GPs was effective.

Dr Peter Brindle, Wellcome training fellow in health services research and a GP in Bristol, said: 'Putting obesity into the Q&O would be a

disaster.'

By Simon Crawshaw

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