GPs back CVD screens despite time demand

The majority of GPs support cardiovascular screening guidelines, but few carry it out because of time restrictions, survey findings reveal.

A survey of 404 GPs in England showed that just one in 10 implemented Joint British Societies (JBS2) and NICE guidelines to screen the over-40s for cardiovascular risk factors.

This is despite a sub-study of 249 GPs showing that 91 per cent view JBS2 guidance to be important for good clinical practice.

Of the 404 GPs questioned, time was perceived to be the biggest restriction to screening for cardiovascular disease (CVD), followed by achieving patient appointments, administration costs and a lack of specific reimbursement.

Moreover, 57 per cent of GPs said that inclusion in the quality framework was the best way of ensuring comprehensive CVD screening.

The survey was commissioned by the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS), Primary Care Diabetes Society and the cholesterol charity, Heart UK.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, west London GP and member of the PCCS and Heart UK, said: 'If you want anything to be implemented comprehensively in general practice it has to be put in the quality framework.

'It's daft we have a quality framework domain for obesity, but there's nothing in there about identifying being at risk of CVD.'

When 331 GPs were asked how they screened patients for CVD, 56 per cent said they screened opportunistically.

Of the remainder, 8 per cent said as a result of patient audit, 5 per cent as a result of another discussion and 1 per cent from visual evidence.

The DoH was expected to launch a CVD screening programme in April, but after deciding the original strategy was not 'very effective', it went back to the drawing board.

Dr Bill Kirkup, chairman of the DoH Vascular Programme Board, said: 'We are currently looking at a range of options for vascular risk assessment and management, as well as the associated benefits and costs, but no decision has yet been taken.

'This is a complex area which requires careful study,' he added.

'GP practices are already developing registers of patients who are at risk of developing CVD, and guidance from NICE says that offering statins to those patients at high risk is cost effective.'

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