Exclusive: PCTs choose GPs for vascular checks

GPs will be solely responsible for delivering vascular screening in half of PCTs.

GPs are winning the race to deliver the DoH's vascular screening programme, despite almost two-thirds of PCTs being approached by private companies offering to do the work, GP can reveal.

Of 25 PCTs in England that responded to a Freedom of Information Act request, 72 per cent said that GPs would be involved in the roll-out of the vascular checks.

Twelve PCTs stated that GPs would be solely responsible for carrying out the checks, while six PCTs said that a combination of GPs and pharmacists would be used.

The remaining PCTs said that they were still undecided as to who would do the work.

The findings come despite growing concerns among leading cardiovascular experts that private companies are looking to move in and sideline GPs from the programme.

In October, the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS) launched a manifesto to encourage more GPs to engage with PCTs over how the vascular programme is run (GP, 17 October).

A total of 15 PCTs, 60 per cent, said they had been approached by private companies.

County Durham and Darlington, Harrow and South Birmingham PCTs all reported being approached by Lloyds Pharmacy.

Dr Terry McCormack, former chairman of the PCCS and a GP in North Yorkshire, said: 'The findings show that PCTs know where best to obtain quality preventive care, from primary care or in some instances a combination of primary care and pharmacists.'

Dr George Kassianos, a member of the British Cardiovascular Society and a GP in Berkshire, said: 'Comprehensive screening can only be done by the patient's GP who has knowledge of the patient and their family, has access to a full medical history, and knows the patient's current medical status.'

A decision to engage any provider other than the GP is shortsighted and may not be beneficial to the patient, added Dr Kassianos.

The DoH wants the programme of vascular checks for all adults, aged 40-74, to be running by 2009/10.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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