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GP leader hits out at regulator's demands

Published on 10/12/07 at 01:03pm

The chairman of the NHS Alliance has criticised a new report which says GPs are not carrying out 'basic work' such as checking the height and weight of every patient in order to establish a BMI database.

The Healthcare Commission's new report, the State of Healthcare 2006/7, said GPs are failing to carry out this work, even when they were being paid for it as part of the GP contract.

But Dr Michael Dixon of the NHS Alliance said it is not being done because there are numerous other demands on GPs.

"My basic work - and that of every GP and every clinician - is to make sure my patient gets the best possible treatment for whatever condition he or she is suffering from," he said.

"That may include checking height and weight. But often that is inappropriate. The patient may be acutely ill and in pain. He or she may be distressed, worried or anxious. There may be an urgent need for specific treatment or for referral to a specialist for further investigations. The patient's needs must come before the needs of bureaucracy."

The NHS Alliance says primary care trusts are also sometimes finding that taking the time and effort needed to meet demands of regulators is distorting their essential day to day work for patients.

"The purpose of regulation is to protect patients and ensure services are planned and delivered effectively. There is a danger that it is developing a life of its own divorced from that. We urge the Healthcare Commission to discuss with those who deliver care to patients the best way forward," said Dixon.

The report

The Healthcare Commission's annual report is the official independent report on the health service and is now in its fourth year.

The Commission says that overall, the quality of NHS services is improving, with 46% of trusts rated 'excellent' or 'good' in 2006/07, compared to 40% a year earlier.

But it says PCTs have bucked this trend, with only 26% 'excellent' or 'good' in 2006/7 compared to 33% the year before. Many PCTs went through a re-organisation over the period, but the Commission says "this does not provide a complete explanation for the underperformance".

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