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Independents' Day

QOF depression drive

GPs will have to screen all patients with diabetes and CHD for depression under the new QOF.

The revised framework also provides points for assessing the severity of illness in all depressed patients ­ among a total of 33 for the new clinical area. The GPC admitted the framework had been 'corrected' to reflect GP workload after criticism that depression had been omitted from the original version.

Experts on depression welcomed the new focus on the illness, but warned that PCTs would struggle to provide services for the 'huge numbers' of diabetes and CHD patients with undiagnosed depression. GPs also cautioned that assessing the severity of all patients with depression symptoms would have a 'significant impact' on workload.

Guidance on achieving the new QOF points will outline three questionnaires that GPs can use to assess depression severity ­ the patient health questionnaire, hospital anxiety and depression scale and Beck depression inventory.

Professor Andre Tylee, professor of primary care mental health at King's College London, said 30 to 40 per cent of patients with diabetes had depression, as did around a third of those who had suffered a myo-cardial infarction.

He said: 'PCTs will have to think about how they are going to implement the depression bit of QOF. There will be huge numbers of people they might not have recognised before.'

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