THE annual health checks that GPs are obliged to offer patients over the age of 75 are being carried out in a variety of ways - and sometimes not performed at all, according to a survey of 20 GP practices in Nottinghamshire. The survey found that more than two years after the new GP contract was drawn up, three out of the 20 practices had not carried out any organised health checks of elderly patients. A further six issued a letter inviting elderly patients to contact the surgery if they wanted a health check, but with no follow-up telephone call or visit.

Two practices sent staff to visit the patients' homes unannounced; two carried out checks only when patients visited the surgery for another reason. Seven practices sent a letter, with a follow-up telephone call or visit to those who did not respond. In 16 of the practices, nurses performed some or all of the checks; yet in five practices, nurses had no training or previous experience in working with the elderly. The author, a research fellow at the University of Nottingham, says in Nursing Times that more monitoring of GP practices is needed.