Exclusive - GPs back tougher cholesterol targets for QOF

Poll shows more than half of GPs do not have the resources to treat patients to the lower levels.

Almost 60 per cent of GPs believe the QOF should adopt tougher cholesterol targets to match NICE guidance, a UK-wide survey shows.

But just over half of GPs warned that they do not have the necessary resources to treat patients to the lower levels. Only 8 per cent said that their most at-risk patients were being treated in line with NICE guidance.

Currently, the QOF recommends a total cholesterol target of 5mmol/l or less for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and in patients with type-2 diabetes.

But a poll of 100 GPs, conducted by market researchers TNS healthcare, found 58 per cent want NICE cholesterol targets included in the QOF.

A total of 67 per cent of GPs support specific lower lipid targets for type-2 diabetes, while 65 per cent backed lower targets for secondary prevention.

Dr Stewart Findlay, treasurer of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society and a GP in County Durham, said: 'It is encouraging that GPs, who are at the forefront of lipid management, are aware of the NICE recommendations.'

Professor Mike Kirby, a GP in Hertfordshire with an interest in CVD, said: 'The QOF targets are just an audit standard. They are not best clinical practice, whereas the NICE guidance endorses the JBS2 guidance which also says to aim for the lower targets.

'GPs should be trying to get the majority of patients down to these cholesterol targets. It will help to reduce the number of cardiovascular events.'

But the survey also showed that GPs are under pressure not to increase prescribing costs, warned Professor Kirby.

'It can be difficult to achieve the NICE targets using generic simvastatin, and titrating up to the higher dosage can lead to side-effects.'

Professor Kirby hoped NICE's role in developing QOF would align it with NICE targets.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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