Read code alterations are 'wasting GPs' time'

Constant changes to quality framework Read codes are causing increasing frustration amongst GPs.

Changes are made every six months and many are creating increased workload for GPs who have to change templates and update records.

The latest changes that are likely to cause problems for GPs relate to the ongoing management of dementia and exception codes for patients with left ventricular dysfunction.

Dr Pablo Millares Martin, a GP in Leeds, said the change to the dementia codes had not been flagged up in advance and overnight he found 60 per cent of his dementia patients were no longer catalogued as having had their check-up.

'We have had to change all those patients' records and change the template, not to mention the time it took to find out what the problem was.'

Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon who scrutinises any changes to Read code software, said it was an ongoing problem.

'We have a "Hotel California" mental health register. Easy to get on but no way to leave it, even if the patient has completely recovered,' Dr Jamie added.

A Connecting for Health spokesman said: 'Codes will only change three times in any one year. Once will be to incorporate changes to the GP contract as agreed between GP representatives and the DoH. The other two occasions will be maintenance releases to reflect updating of the source Read code dictionary which are required to ensure GPs get the money to which they are entitled.'

Read code change

Patients diagnosed with dementia whose care has been reviewed in the preceding 15 months
Old: Codes starting with 6A6, 3A, 8CM2, 8BM0, 8CR7.
New: 6AB

Exception codes for heart failure
Old: codes starting with 9h1
New: codes starting with 9hw.

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