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Heart disease and diabetes need targeted screening

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Heart disease and diabetes could be tackled by a more targeted approach to screening and save the NHS tens of millions of pounds across the UK, an expert claims.

Research scientist Dr Simon Griffin proposed two alternative approaches to mass screening after conducting a study last year.

He said the two approaches could be “equally effective” at finding those at highest risk.

One such approach would see doctors invite only those they thought to be most at risk for screening after examining patient’s data, while the other would see those aged 50 to 74 screened.

At present those aged 50 to 74 are screened in England and Wales.

Research scientist Dr Simon Griffin said the UK government and the Scottish government could save “significant resources” by moving away from mass screening.

He 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 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.”

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