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Screening by Private Companies Must Be Regulated: NSC

Representatives of the National Screening Committee of UK are considering ways to regulate screening programs by private companies.//

According to Sir Muir Gray, program director of the NSC, such moves are being considered due to evidence of these screening programs creating unwanted fears in the minds of patients, and resultant pressure being put on the National Health Services.

Tests cost from 10 pounds for a cholesterol check to thousands for a body scan, but people can then be sent to the NHS for further - often unnecessary - checks.

Says Sir Gray: "We are thinking of how to control private testing because it's an example of low value activity which generates work for the health service, may cause harm and does not benefit the individual.

"We'll look at different forms of regulation - some from the Healthcare Commission, some through the Advertising Standards Authority, some through the Office of Fair Trading. It will be an evidence-based regime."

The decision of the NSC is supported by the Royal College of GPs. The chairman of the RCGP Professor Mayur Lakhani was quoted: "Screening is becoming increasingly popular and is not without hazard if done in an unprepared way.

"Working to national standards would bring added peace of mind”, he added.

At the same time there were protests from private institutions that this was not the case. Dr. Peter Mace, assistant director of Bupa wellness said: "We refute the allegation that health assessments cause patients anxiety. Our experience is quite the opposite.

"We identify a health issue for around a third of customers which they were previously unaware of”, he averred.


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