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BMA seeks health screening controls

The British Medical Association has called for new regulations to be enforced to prevent patients from being mis-sold private health screening tests.

The BMA and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges are unhappy with "irresponsible" direct marketing of private health screening tests for things such as prostate cancer and high cholesterol.

The two doctors' groups warned that many of the procedures have unreliable and often inaccurate results, with this giving false reassurance to some and causing unnecessary worry for others.

The organisations are calling for more robust marketing rules for health screening to ensure that advertising is "factual" and "balanced".

These safeguards would require all marketing material to include information on the risks and limitations of tests, the implications of the results and any follow-up procedures.

There should also be a statement of the health benefits from a test, including the evidence for this health benefit.

Doctors have warned that results from procedures such as the PSA test for prostate cancer - administered in GP surgeries when a person has shown symptoms - need to be explained to patients.

They have also warned that people should not be given results for tests, such as cholesterol levels, without receiving advice based upon their full medical history.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

British Medical Association

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I agree that there should be clear guidelines for performing health screening - it could be too easy for 'health professionals' to give misleading or misguided advice. But I also think that GPs get rather possessive of their own patch and are not open minded. I do health screening for CVD, diabetes and CVA both privately and for local councils" - Liz Adams, Leicester
My patients are made very clear what I am checking for and signa
disclaimer. I also have the back up of an excellent private GP.The problem
I have is that this is NHS work really but I am being paid by the
councils, as the NHS will not support me in the community or peoples'
workplace. If any GPs would support me and pay me I could do a lot more to
raise public and individual awareness, and provide education onsite