GPs could have prevented one death in 20 by quicker referral, diagnosis and treatment or by prescribing aspirin to patients with vascular disease, a study has concluded.

Writing in the July issue of The British Journal of General Practice , four Merseyside GPs report that their analysis of 1,263 deaths over a 40-month period in their practices showed that more than ha lf had been preventable . For ty per cent were attributable to patients' own behaviour - mainly related to alcohol and tobacco or failure to comply with medication. But 5 per cent could have been prevented by general practice teams, and 6 per cent by better hospital diagnosis and treatment.