Surgery ECG plan 'is a non-starter'

Proposals for GPs to carry out ECG testing in surgeries, as part of a screening programme for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in England, have been branded a 'non-starter' by the National Screening Committee.

Last week, Gordon Brown announced plans for all patients, regardless of age or risk profile, to be screened for diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung diseases, CVD and stroke risk. GPs would be expected to carry out ECGs to help screen those at risk.

But chairman of the National Screening Committee Dr Surendra Kumar, who is also a GP in Widnes, Cheshire, said: 'It is a non-starter to introduce ECGs into surgeries because I do not believe that it is practically possible.

'GPs do not have the time to perform such tests and I think that many GPs will not cooperate with these plans.'

'We will need to see extra training and investment for this. Practices will need more GPs to be able to perform all these tests.

'My own practice will require at least three further GPs to be able to cope with the extra workload.'

Surrey GP Dr John Pittard, a member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, also questioned whether GPs would have the time to perform and follow up ECGs.

He added: 'ECGs flag up abnormalities, but they require a great deal of interpretation.'

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