01/04/2008

NHS Reforms To Boost Health Checks For Over 40's

Health checks for the over 40s are to be implemented under a set of reforms within the National Health Service.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's promise of a "more personalised" NHS will be one step closer to reality as screenings for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke will become readily available for the 40-74 demographic.

Some medical professionals doubt the effectiveness of the health checks however.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GP committee, said: "I cannot imagine how this will work.

"We just don't have the staff to take on this extra layer of work and I don't know where the evidence is that it will be effective."

The British Medical Association said GPs already carry out targeted blood pressure and cholesterol checks on patients as a precautionary measure for such conditions.

Opposition parties within the government have also said that Labour is simply bringing back old policy.

Lib Dem Health Spokesman Norman Lamb said: "If we dip beneath the political rhetoric, Labour has been cutting essential public health programmes over the past few years."

However, Labour ministers believe that the checks will save 2,000 lives a year.

A full roll-out of the services will begin from next year, with pilots be carried out by GPs and nurses this autumn.

Mr Brown said: "The NHS of the future will do more than just treat patients who are ill, it will be an NHS offering prevention as well."

Every year in the UK 275,000 people have a heart attack and almost half are fatal while strokes are responsible for 70,000 deaths.

Research at Birmingham University has shown that an estimated 3 million people not on medication would benefit from statins, aspirin or blood-pressure drugs.

(DS/JM)


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