Quality achievement does not cost more

High achievement on quality indicators does not lead to spiralling prescribing costs, according to an analysis of prescribing trends and quality targets.

The finding should go some way to allaying fears that the introduction of the GMS qual-ity framework would mean increased GP prescribing.

The study compared prescribing and quality data collected in 2003 from 71 practices in Norfolk and East Anglia.

The researchers collected data relating to the top seven life-saving prescribing interventions in general practice.

These are ACE inhibitors for heart failure, influenza immunisation for patients aged over 65 years, smoking cessation advice and nicotine replacement, screening and treatment of hypertension, aspirin for IHD, warfarin for AF and statins for IHD.

The researchers then compared the prescribing data for these drugs with the proportion of eligible patients appropriately treated.

They found no association between prescribing expenditure and quality achievement in five of these areas.

However, there was an association between expenditure on ACE inhibitors and warfarin and the proportion of patients appropriately treated. The researchers said that their finding indicated that many GPs were still treating low-risk patients instead of high-risk ones.

High quality scores could therefore be best achieved through better targeting, rather than increased scrip volume.

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