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Most GPs not planning on doing spirometry training despite NICE guidance

Two-thirds of GP partners and over three-quarters of salaried GPs have not obtained the spirometry certification and are either unsure about getting it, or have decided not to, according to new research.

The figures come as part of the Primary Concerns 2018 report – which surveyed nearly 3,000 GPs and other primary care staff on issues they are facing – and found 28% of partners and 49% of salaried GPs have no intention of obtaining certification to perform spirometry, while a further 34% of partners and 29% of salaried GPs are unsure about getting the certification.

In comparison, 38% of GP partners and 20% of salaried GPs said they have already have obtained certification or intend to.

In 2016, GPs were told they would have to be certified and placed on a national register by 2021, to be allowed to perform spirometry under a scheme set to be implemented by NHS England.

However, last year the BMA GP Committee said GPs do not need to undertake NHS England training requirements to perform spirometry in their practices, as it is not part of GMS, meaning local commissioners are responsible for defining what training requirements are needed.

Despite this, new NICE chronic obstructive pulmonary disease guidelines released in December said hospitals should refer patients with suspected COPD to their GP for spirometry testing.

NICE said the change will result in a small increase to GP workload, but additional spirometry referrals will have a ‘minimal impact’.

The guidance will also require practice nurses to perform lung function tests and who, according to the survey, are more responsive to adhere to the guidance. The report revealed that just over half of respondents (51%) had already gained or are planning on obtaining certification.

Only 26% of practice nurses surveyed were unsure on the certification, compared to almost one third of salaried GPs (29%) and just over a third of GP partners (34%).

The Cogora survey was open from 29 November to 20 December 2018 inclusive. Cogora offered all respondents the chance to win a £250 John Lewis voucher as an incentive to complete the survey. Cogora invited people to complete the survey through newsletters sent directly to each publication’s readers, and by way of advertisements on the publications’ website home pages. It was also promoted through the publications’ social media channels. There were 2,885 responses in total.


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