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Patients pay for 'unnecessary' private screening


People are unnecessarily paying for expensive private health screenings, an independent body has warned.

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.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • What a surprise! Private healthcare companies are there to make money for their investors.What we have to think about is ...can we afford shareholders?.....once private health companies take over,the first elements that suffer are wages,sick pay entitlement, holiday pay and training.
    I read an article by a journo who had an RTA in America.She eventually got back home to the UK and subsequently had a phone call from the consultant who had looked after her in America.He had the result of a test that had been done on the journalist and was anxious to discuss the results with her face to face. She refused to fly back to the USA for this and insisted that the info be passed to her GP.This was done eventually, and...what a surprise.....the results were normal. One can only assume that the American consultant wanted her to go over there so he could charge for the consultation.....this is business versus healthcare.....and we have seen how much this costs iin the USA,the NHS system is cheaper,although it is not perfect I would rather have our system...

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  • It's no wonder the public are seeking reassurance, I also for the first time in my life have been looking into private health care. How many GP's are not referring patients for tests and investigations because they are working to a budget. My friend's mum went to her GP with typical bowel cancer symptoms and the GP sent her away with some trivial prescription and reassurance, when she mentioned her daughter was a nurse and suggested she be sent for investigation the GP just replied "oh those tests are rather unpleasant, you don't want to put yourself through that unecessarily". Six months later, my friend's mum died from Ca colon.
    Of course the private sector is more than happy to cash in on people's insecurities, alarming headlines "One in Three will get cancer".

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