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Targeted screening system proposed

A health researcher has claimed the government could save tens of millions of pounds by adopting a more focused health screening programme.

Dr Simon Griffin said the UK government and the Scottish government could save "significant resources" by moving away from mass screening for heart disease and diabetes.

He said that a 2010 study into a more concentrated approach to screening for heart disease, including two alternative methods, could be "equally effective" when it comes to identifying those at highest risk.

Doctors using one model would check available data on patients to discover which of them are most at risk of heart disease and invite them for screening.

The other would see people aged between 50 to 74 have screenings instead of the current 40 to 74 age band in England and Wales.

Dr Griffin said detailed economic analysis had not been carried out yet but adopting either of the targeted systems would have the potential to save "tens of millions of pounds" across the UK.

The assistant director of the MRC (Medical Research Council) epidemiology unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, said: "In recent years there has been a trend towards introducing mass screening as a preventative measure in a number of areas of health policy that meet specified criteria.

"Our research has shown that a more targeted approach to screening for risk of heart disease, based upon an evaluation of routinely available clinical data, could be as effective in identifying those at risk as a mass screening programme.

"As such, this could deliver the same health gains for patients whilst offering the potential to save the NHS significant resources."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Medical Research Council

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I just wonder how we are to know if patients are at high risk if they have never been tested or presented at surgery before. I feel that although it must be expensive everyone should be invited to have a baseline check, with high risk patients being invited for appropriate treatment and/or further investigations" - Liz Adams, Leicester