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Pharmacists who refer patients for treatment after vascular screening could be needlessly giving GPs extra work, an audit has found.
The report into the Government’s Heart MoT drive – which encourages heart monitoring outside health practices – suggested that as many as 70% of patients assessed at a pharmacy had been sent for treatment by a doctor, even though just a fifth were later found to be at risk of cardiovascular problems.
The capacity of the programme to unearth real risk was also questioned by the report, with only four patients out of 1,100 recommended for treatment not already being known to doctors.
But researchers claimed the project, carried out across 251 pharmacies in Birmingham, had some success in targeting deprived areas and ethnic groups, adding the poor results may have been down to logistical problems.
Defending the initiative, study leader Dr Jonathan Horgan, head of medicines management at NHS South Birmingham, said: “Pharmacies may be perceived by the public as a less ‘medical’ model with easier access, compared with GP surgeries, for ‘well’ people who are interested in finding out more about their health.”
Copyright Press Association 2009