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White Paper thinking flawed

Assumptions that better-quality primary care will drive down 'avoidable' hospital admissions are flawed, say GP researchers.

Last week's White Paper threw its full weight behind chronic disease management schemes to curb the ever-increasing rate of admissions.

But a study of all 31 PCTs in London found admission rates for chronic diseases were linked to deprivation ­ but not to the quality of GP care.

The researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine this week, warned against blaming GPs for high admission rates.

Study leader Dr Sonia Saxena, lecturer in primary care at Imperial College London and a GP in Putney, south London, said: 'Different populations have different health needs. It isn't about quality of GP service.'

Dr Saxena, who is a member of the RCGP health inequalities standing group, said proposed financial penalties for failing to reduce hospital admissions would create a vicious circle.

'If you start putting in penalties, PCTs will be focusing on manipulating figures and not spending time improving the health of the population.'

The study looked at age-standardised admission rates for asthma, diabetes, heart failure, hypertension and COPD in a population of seven million patients.

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