Budget for CVD screening shrinks to £25m

DoH admits that just 10-15 per cent of £250 million pledged for CVD programme will be put into screening.

Just £25 million may be available for the workforce expected to carry out the cardiovascular disease (CVD) screening programme in England.

Last week health minister Ann Keen said that only 10-15 per cent of the scheme's £250 million annual budget will fund GPs, pharmacists and health professionals to conduct the risk assessments and laboratory tests.

The remaining 85-90 per cent will fund subsequent interventions.

Ms Keen was responding to questions on the proposals from Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

But GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'We need to define the workforce and logistical implications first. The funding must follow this modelling - rather than earmarking a derisory sum to the workforce that will be carrying this out.

'Clearly the proposals will not work unless enabled by adequate resources,' he added.

'It needs the support of the workforce that will help implement it.'

Dr John Pittard, a GP in Surrey and member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS), said: 'It doesn't seem very much money to me.

'Gordon Brown couldn't tell you how many people you will have to see, or how long it takes to explain the risk factors to patients.

'Chasing up people and seeing the worried well will eat up a lot of resources,' added Dr Pittard.

The DoH said the scheme will take up seven extra appointments a week in each GP practice, but the GPC estimates the figure could be closer to 40.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said there was not enough time or money to fit these appointments into a normal working day.

But Dr Terry McCormack, PCCS chairman, said the extra workload would pay off because it would prevent incidences of CVD the future.

It is likely that patients aged 40 to 74 will be invited to vascular risk screening once every five years.

Screening will comprise a basic questionnaire, as well as measurement of height, weight, BP and a blood cholesterol test. Patients will be told their risk profile and given advice on how to reduce their risk and, if needed, may be given scrips for statins or antihypertensives.

The National Screening Committee has not recommended the programme, but did issue guidance on how a national programme would operate earlier this year.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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