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Each GP saves 4.7 lives a year, say researchers

Each GP saves nearly five lives a year, shows the first study to estimate the impact of disease prevention by practices.

Researchers estimated the public health impact (PHI) score for all practices in England and found 139,100 lives were saved nationally as a direct result of disease preventation activities in 2009/2010.

This equated to an average, per GP, of 4.71 lives saved a year.

The research, to published be in the British Journal of General Practice next month, is the first to quantify the impact of GPs on lives saved, with the PHI score calculated based on 20 QOF indicators, including those for flu vaccination, smoking cessation advice, and HbA1c control.

QOF data was taken from 8,136 general practices in England for the study, 97.97% of all practices.

They found the mean estimated PHI score was 258.9 lives saved per 100,000 registered patients, per year. This represented 75.7% of the maximum potential PHI score of 340.9.

The researchers said they hoped the PHI score would help CCGs to assess the impact of practices more accurately and lead to better public health outcomes.

Study leader Dr Mark Ashworth, a GP in south-east London and clinical senior lecturer at King’s College London, said that the study gave GPs a real measure of how much good they are doing in the community.

He said: ‘What this is doing for the first time is giving GPs a feel that, actually, all that disease prevention work they do translates into something really tangible.

“This figure is a way of looking at how well you are doing which is not so much using the management agenda, which is so often what’s being applied to general practice. It is using something that means much more to GPs, and much more to patients. It translates into a figure for lives saved.’

He added that the score was not necessarily related to high overall QOF scores: ‘You’ve got other sets of practices that don’t do very well at QOF – so aren’t said to be doing very well in terms of care performance – and yet their PHI score is very high.

‘It gives you some sense that QOF isn’t fully rewarding the practices that have necessarily performed best in terms of saving lives out in their community.’