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Diabetes targets "could be harmful"

Doctors have warned that plans for GPs to earn money for monitoring people with type 2 diabetes will be harmful to patients.

The new target, agreed between government officials and GPs, aims for tighter control of blood glucose in diabetic patients in a bid to cut the risk of heart disease in people with the condition.

However, writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Richard Lehman, a GP in Oxfordshire, and Harlan Krumholz, Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in the US, warn that the targets will mean thousands of people will have to take more medication.

They also say the move was supported by medical evidence, with three studies in the past year showing it will not provide substantial benefit and may cause patients harm.

From April, doctors will be required to cut blood glucose levels in half of their type 2 diabetic patients to below 7% and will be financially rewarded for doing so under the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).

GP practices will earn around £3,000 - a similar amount to what they are currently paid for achieving a blood glucose target of 7.5%.

The doctors wrote: "Reducing glycated haemoglobin below 7% is not supported by evidence and tens of thousands of patients will need to be given additional oral treatment or will be treated with insulin."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"What is the goverment's reasoning behind lowering the target figure of HbA1c to 7%, in view of the fact that there is no evidence supporting value to patient health?" - Shona Martin, Glasgow

"Getting patients to - Janette McQuarrie, Scotland