Two thirds of PCTs missing BMI target

PCTs in England and Wales are failing to ensure the recording of patients' BMI and diagnosis of 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 that 2.3 million fewer people had their BMI index measured than PCTs intended.

The report also found that there were 140,000 fewer cases of heart failure diagnosed than 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 removed from the quality framework. GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said it was the only quality indicator without an evidence base.

PCTs were criticised in the 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 put registers in place as planned.

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 not to 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 to diagnose with an echocardiogram, to which most GPs don't have access.'

The Healthcare Commission also criticised PCTs for failing fully to 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, disparities in care in deprived areas were not being reduced.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

State of Healthcare report

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