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BMA: GP contract prevents heart deaths

The British Medical Association reckon that more than 8,700 patients in England will be saved from potentially life threatening cardiovascular illnesses over the next five years as a direct result of the new GP contract which completed its second full year earlier this month.

Introduced in full in April 2004, the new national GPs contract links quality of care to practice resources via a Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). This month the QOF was expanded to include a greater range of health conditions. Participation in QOF is voluntary but most GP practices take part.

Under the new GP contract, practices are rewarded where they can demonstrate that they are giving patients the best possible evidence-based treatments in named disease categories. GPs and their practice teams performed exceptionally well across the board in 04/05, the first year of the contract. In o the disease category, hypertension (raised blood pressure), more than nine out of ten (94.4%) practices delivered top quality care say the BMA.

There are 5,973,062 patients in England suffering from hypertension and at risk of developing cardiovascular illness. The BMA say that research has shown that the right intervention by GPs means that over a five year period 8,740 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, developing angina, heart failure or even death from heart disease, will have been prevented.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, said: 'The figure for cardiovascular events averted shows that NHS money invested in general practice, prevents the misery of illness and its associated healthcare costs, and saves lives as well. This is just a sample of the way evidence-based interventions by GPs and their practice teams can keep people healthier and save money for the NHS in the longer term by avoiding potentially costly hospital admissions.

'GPs are demonstrating that they are the solution to many of the problems in the NHS. This highlights just one of the many quality-care interventions incentivised in the GP contract which prevent illness, minimise symptoms, and benefit both patients and the NHS budget. Critics sometimes ask what the government has got for its investment in the new contract. If the public wants proof that giving family doctors the right resources works, they need only ask the men women and children who have avoided major sickness and premature death.'

Cynics might argue that the doctors are drawing attention to this success to divert interest from the media reports of GPs' massive salaries under the new arrangements (£127,000 for a 4.5 day week in south-east England). However, assuming the projections are accurate, good news is good news whatever the motivations of the messenger.


Page created on April 10th, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009