Leicester Mercury

Rethink on vitamin test could saves NHS millions

SIMPLE CHANGE MEANT GPS LESS LIKELY TO ORDER KITS

- By STAFF REPORTER

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.

 ?? GETTY ?? SUNSHINE IN A CAPSULE: Vitamin D
GETTY SUNSHINE IN A CAPSULE: Vitamin D

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