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Tories warn over screening drive

The Conservatives have issued a warning over the government's drive to increase screening services to improve the UK's health.

Gordon Brown is setting up the first national screening programme of its kind in the world to spot the early signs of heart problems, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

He also announced plans to make key diagnostic procedures like blood tests, electro-cardiograms (ECGs) and ultrasounds available in GP surgeries.

But shadow health minister Mark Simmonds said levels of obesity and sexually transmitted diseases have all increased since 1997.

And he warned the screening programme "could divert important financial resources away from deprived areas and ethnic communities where it is vital to address health inequalities".

However, public health minister Dawn Primarolo told a Commons debate: "Advice on diet and physical activity, and the cessation of smoking, has been crucial in its effect in making serious strides in higher quality intervention to improve the health of the nation."

She said that there is "much to be proud of" from the first 60 years of the NHS, adding: "Our intention is to ensure that the next 60 years of the NHS builds on prevention, builds on needs and celebrates everyone's life and quality of life."

The Conservative Party

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