People are unnecessarily paying for expensive private health screenings, an independent body has warned.
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The UK National Screening Committee (NSC) is concerned by the increasing number of patients taking part in the tests to get “reassurance” over their health.
People are putting themselves through the “unnecessary” stress of costly procedures that are mostly already available on the NHS, it said.
To combat against this, the publicly funded body has issued guidance informing people at what stage they should be considering undergoing screenings.
Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes at the UK NSC, said: “Patients are increasingly turning to private screening companies for reassurance about their health and we hope that this guidance will allow them to make the decisions that are best for them. The safety of patients is the most important factor.
“We want to make sure that people are fully aware of the tests that are offered to them on the NHS before they pay private companies for screening that may cause unnecessary anxiety and could lead to further unnecessary investigations.”
Steven Laitner, a GP and consultant in Public Health Medicine, said some tests can pose health risks if undertaken “outside of internationally recognised criteria”.
He said: “There has been a notable increase in the number of patients being offered private screening tests.
“However, all screening requires a careful balancing of risks and benefits of the screening tests offered. Where screening falls outside of internationally recognised criteria, it can pose a significant risk to health, leading to unnecessary anxiety, invasive testing and even unnecessary treatment without any overall health benefit. I hope that this new guidance will help patients make fully informed screening decisions.”
Typically, private screening tests can range in cost from £125 to £2,000.