Self care ‘does not cut GP work’

DoH figures showing the Expert Patient Programme (EPP) cut GP consultations by 7 per cent have been questioned by other DoH-funded researchers.

The EPP, which began in 2002, runs self-management courses for patients to help them manage their conditions.

Last year's primary care White Paper promised to triple the scheme's expenditure.

This month the DoH released ‘internal evaluation data' about the EPP's effectiveness.

The full research was unavailable from the DoH, but a spokesman said that data from approximately 1,000 EPP participants showed patients attended 7 per cent fewer GP consultations and had 16 per cent fewer attendances at A&E and 10 per cent fewer outpatient visits.

A total of 38 per cent felt that symptoms including depression were less severe up to six months after completing a course.

However experts from the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre at Manchester University believe that the programme will fail to deliver the expected results.

Professor Anne Rogers, who led the rival Manchester research, which was DoH funded, said: 'There was no reduction in the number of healthcare visits as a result of this scheme.'

She suggested that data used by the DoH was flawed.  

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