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Experts question screening plans

The British Medical Association is worried plans for GPs to screen well people as a preventive measure could make it more difficult for sick patients to get an appointment.

Ministers have said nearly 10,000 heart attacks and 2,000 deaths could be prevented by basic checks on the NHS. The tests on people aged between 40 and 74 are part of a programme to fight heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and diabetes.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) GP Committee said: "We have serious concerns about the pressure this will put on an already overstretched general practice.

"There is not currently the workforce, the time in the day, or even the space in our surgeries to carry out this number of consultations."

The screenings would concentrate on identifying a history of disease within families, as well as calculating a patient's body mass index and taking blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
But Dr Buckman questions the lack of scientific evidence behind the Government screening plans, saying:

"To justify healthcare spending on this scale there would need to be very clear evidence that this is both cost and clinically effective. There have been no pilot schemes and the models the Government is using are theoretical."

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What do you think of the plan? Should GPs screen well people as a preventive measure?

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"It makes sense to screen. The old addage 'prevention is better than cure' can at last be applied! Why should a patient whose family members were affected by stroke have to spend the rest of their life waiting for their turn too!" - Wendy Hook, Spalding Lincolnshire

"The government should be directed to the '10 criteria for screening' as defined by the WHO and be absolutely certain that their plans meet these criteria before introducing this idea." - Lisa Boyling, Brighton