PCTs fail to take 2.3 million BMIs

GPs are failing to record patients' BMI and are under-diagnosing heart failure, according to the Healthcare Commission.

The watchdog’s annual State of Healthcare report found that only 66 per cent of PCTs had the target number of GPs measuring obesity, compared with 71 per cent last year. This meant 2.3 million fewer people had had their BMI measured than PCTs intended.

The report also found that there were 140,000 less cases of heart failure diagnosed than were expected. It concludes that this could represent problems recording patient data or more worryingly, a failure to diagnose.

A GP survey in June found that nearly half of GPs wanted obesity out of the quality framework. GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said it was the only quality indicator without an evidence base.

PCTs were criticised in the commission report for failing to establish practice-based registers to target treatment to patients at-risk of CHD and diabetes, with more than half failing to get practice-registers in place as planned.

After the report’s publication, Dr Buckman disputed the BMI finding as ‘counter-intuitive’. He said: ‘The BMI is generated by the practice computer and I would have to turn it off to not measure BMI.’

On heart failure, he added: ‘Of course the number of diagnoses has gone down because it’s a hospital thing, we are told not to diagnose with an echocardiogram, which most GPs don’t have access to.’

The Healthcare Commission also criticised PCTs for failing to fully understand the health needs of their populations.

The analysis of a year’s worth of Healthcare Commission studies found that although primary care was improving overall, the disparities in care in deprived areas were not being reduced.

Healthcare Commission state of nation’s health report

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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