GPs demand central role in vascular screening

GP cardiovascular society warns uptake of screening will suffer if pharmacies take on the work.

Handing over the vascular checks programme to pharmacists and private companies could result in poor uptake among patients, a leading cardiovascular GP has warned.

Last week, the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS) announced it would be launching a manifesto to encourage more GPs to engage with their PCTs over how the vascular programme is run.

This comes after a number of leading cardiovascular experts raised concerns that GPs are being sidelined in the roll-out of the programme, with companies such as Lloydspharmacy actively approaching PCTs on delivering the programme.

The DoH wants vascular checks for all adults aged 40-74 to assess their risk of developing heart disease, strokes, diabetes and CKD in England.

The programme will be implemented during 2009/10, and by 2012 the DoH expects three million people a year to have been offered the checks.

But PCCS member and Surrey GP Dr John Pittard believes that the current lack of confidence in private companies could see patients staying away and the programme 'falling flat on its face'.

'It is always a concern when private companies get involved.

'I am concerned about how the programme will work and the lack of communication between the companies and primary care,' Dr Pittard said.

'Vascular screening is better done by GPs in primary care where we know the patients and have patient records stretching back decades. Private companies and pharmacists won't get close to this.'

Dr Terry McCormack, outgoing chairman of the PCCS and a GP in North Yorkshire, stressed that pharmacists had a role to play in the programme.

'There is no reason to believe that pharmacists will not do a good job, provided they have been trained properly.'

But whoever carries out the programme, the work will always come back to GPs, so they must lead it, he said.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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