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Independents' Day

Vascular screening sends pilot practice's workload soaring

By Nigel Praities

GP workload is soaring in the first pilot of the Government's vascular screening programme, with an average-sized practice having to treat 500 extra patients with statins.

Practices have been expected to screen an average of nearly 2,000 patients each since the start of the NHS Bolton pilot programme, just nine months ago.

The scheme and has been singled out as a ‘test bed site' by the Department of Health for the national roll-out of vascular screening in all patients aged 45 to 74 from next month.

But practices have found the workload ‘excessive' since the scheme began, in April 2008. Some 31% of practice populations have proved eligible for screening, as people over 45 and not already on disease registers.

Three-quarters of these patients have been screened so far and 27% identified as at high cardiovascular risk.

At a 6,000-patient practice, that will equate to 504 extra patients requiring statins and 24 needing treatment for diabetes once screening is complete.

At one practice, the number of patients on cardiovascular disease and diabetes registers has already risen by 13% and 10% respectively.

Dr Bernard Newgrosh, a GP in Greater Lever, Bolton, said: ‘There is some extra benefit to patients and no question it is appreciated by them, but it is a lot of work.

‘My nurses have complained that the workload has been excessive, but I have said to not overburden themselves – if it takes two years to screen everyone that is fine by me. I don't see why this is suddenly a priority.'

NHS Bolton is one of 18 test bed sites around the country given up to £25,000 from the DH to tackle vascular screening in ‘innovative and interesting' ways.

But the new figures came as the Government announced it was to release standard operating procedures later this month to try and standardise PCT screening initiatives, after criticism that implementation had been ‘crazy' and inconsistent.

Heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle told Pulse the test bed sites were vital for developing new ideas, evaluating them and sharing best practice.

‘We will learn about which models actually works at getting into the workplace, getting into other environments where you may attract attention from people.

‘This is a novel programme, no-one else in the world is doing this, so the eyes of other nations are upon us. There are lots of different models and with sharing ideas and experiences we can learn the right lessons,' he said.

How your practice may be affected

Practice of 6,000
Number of patients over 45 not on disease registers requiring a vascular check: 1,872
Additional patients on primary prevention register: 504
Additional patients on diabetes register: 24

The Bolton scheme

Number of practices: 55
No. of assessments made: 63,945
% practice lists assessed: 71.6%
% placed on practice primary prevention register: 26.9%
% increase in diabetes list: 10%
% increase in CVD list: 13%

CV Screening: in pilot area workload has shot up CV Screening: in pilot area workload has shot up

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