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Keywords:

  • chronic disease management;
  • diabetes;
  • epidemiology;
  • health informatics;
  • patient care

Abstract

Aims  To determine whether the recording of diabetes-related health indicators has increased and differences diminished between age, gender and deprivation groups, following the introduction of the new General Medical Services contract (nGMS), an incentive- and target-based contract for UK family physicians.

Methods  A serial cross-sectional study set in 310 primary care practices in Scotland serving a population of 1.5 million registered patients, focussing on diabetic patients. Data were taken immediately before the introduction of the nGMS and after it had been in place for 1 year.

Results  One year after the introduction of the nGMS contract, there was a 54.2% relative increase in the number of patients electronically recorded as having diabetes. In addition, measurement of the quality indicators glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), blood pressure, serum creatinine and cholesterol significantly increased (P < 0.05). Women were less likely than men to have HbA1c[odds ratio (OR) 0.85, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.80–0.91], serum creatinine (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.84–0.96) and cholesterol recorded (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.77–0.90) or achieve HbA1c (≤ 10.0%; OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.82–0.91) and cholesterol targets (≤ 5.0 mmol/l; OR 0.83, 95%CI 0.77–0.90).

Conclusion  The introduction of the nGMS contract was associated with a rise in the recording of patients with diabetes and the recording of diabetes-related quality indicators. However, women have not benefited equally from the nGMS contract. Strategies are needed to further improve the ascertainment of quality measures and care for women with diabetes, to lessen the potential burden of morbidity amongst female patients in the community.