Primary care trusts and GPs need to better record how many patients visit with heart failure problems, a report suggests.
The Healthcare Commission report is one of its most comprehensive reviews of NHS services to date.
The report shows that a significant number of patients with heart failure are going undetected because GPs are failing to record them on their system.
Just 20% of primary care trusts could provide enough information to meet national clinical audit criteria set in 2003.
"Our report suggests that not all those that need treatment are getting it," says Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission Anna Walker.
"Primary care trusts and GPs need to monitor the number of patients they deal with in comparison with national statistics.
"Symptoms and treatments need to be recorded and followed up by GPs. The care provided also needs to be audited so lessons can be learnt and improvements made."
The report recommends that primary care clinics develop a clinical audit programme to evaluate how effective their services are and the benefit obtained by patients.
It also suggests that clinics compare their performance with other communities in order to identify areas for improvement.