Rethink on vitamin test could saves NHS millions
SIMPLE CHANGE MEANT GPS LESS LIKELY TO ORDER KITS
CHANGING the way GPs order vitamin D testing kits could save the NHS millions of pounds a year, a study has concluded.
People have been urged to take the “sunshine vitamin” to help boost their overall health and in line with evidence it can help protect against Covid-19.
There has been a two to six-fold increase in requests for the vitamin in the UK during the past 18 years, with a corresponding increase in the costs of analysis of vitamin D in primary care.
A study funded by the National Institute of Health Research Applied Research Collaboration East Midlands, aimed to determine the impact on vitamin D test ordering after a redesign of the electronic request forms used by GP practices.
It found a 36.2 per cent decrease in requests for vitamin D.
Lead researcher Dr Veena Patel, consultant rheumatologist from Leicester’s hospitals, said: “National and international guidelines recommend vitamin D testing be performed only in those patients who present with symptoms such as bone pain, muscle weakness, symptoms suggestive of rickets, or those patients who have low serum calcium levels.”
Dr Pankaj Gupta, who helped lead the research and is also from Leicester’s hospitals, said: “We have noticed a year on year increase of 20 per cent in vitamin D requests over the past few years, with a significant impact on resources.
“Hence measures, such as those highlighted in the manuscript, may lead to a better utilisation of the test.”
Professor Mayur Lakhani, a GP based in Leicester, said: “As a working doctor, I would urge everyone to review their requests for vitamin D testing and avoid routine requests, which are both unnecessary and wasteful.
“This is great example of a partnership between the NHS and researchers.
“The project came directly from concerns raised by GPs about overdiagnosis. The findings show that there are simple and practical ways of reducing unnecessary investigations.”
A cost analysis estimated a reduction of 36.2 per cent in vitamin D requests would lead to an annual saving of £638,758 across Leicestershire.
Extrapolated to the UK, it could potentially lead to an annual saving of £38,712,606.