Monday, 16 July 2007

Scanning charlatans to be brought to order.

While the GMC has taken its eye off the ball in order to apologise on behalf of all doctors for the actions of a mass murderer it has forgotten its original role in protecting the public from quacks and charletans. This has allowed patient-for-profit companies such as Prescan to offer private screening scans with unfounded claims of the benefits and no regard to the risks.
It now looks like the Government may be stepping in to make up for the GMC and the Royal College of Radiologists inaction and are set to introduce legislation to curb the excesses of private screening. Here is an article I found on Medicexchange

Private medical screening faces regulation in UK
by Tim Castle

Companies selling private medical screening face government controls over concerns the tests make patients anxious and put pressure on the National Health Service, a senior medical advisor said on Thursday.

Muir Gray of the government's National Screening Committee (NSC) told medical magazine Pulse that the private health sector needed regulating over the tests.

Medical screening on offer from private firms ranges from cheap cholesterol checks to whole body scans costing thousands of pounds.

"We are thinking of how we 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," said Gray, the NSC's programme director.

"Lots of GPs I know are very concerned about people who go to a private clinic for a blood test and then the people who run the private clinic say 'Oh your kidney results look a bit funny -- just go and see your GP'," he added.

Since 1996 the health service has had to submit all new screening programmes to the NSC to ensure they are effective and beneficial to patients.

Gray said private sector screening also needed to be controlled.

"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," Gray said.

"I don't think we've got a proper system of regulation at all for the independent sector," he said.

The Royal College of GPs backed the concerns. "Screening is becoming increasingly popular and is not without hazard if done in an unprepared way," said RCGP chair Mayur Lakhani.

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

But leading providers of private testing vigorously defended their services.

Private medical group BUPA said more than 80 per cent of its customers had health insurance and so any follow-up tests or treatments were usually covered with little or no impact on the NHS.

"BUPA health assessments provide early detection of many serious and life-threatening diseases from high blood pressure and diabetes to cancers and stroke," said BUPA Wellness Assistant Medical Director Peter Mace.

"They also save NHS resources by dealing with minor problems during the assessment or at subsequent follow-up appointments," he added.

Simply Health, which includes medical insurance company HSA and testing firm Your Health Screening, said it did not offer tests of "dubious value".

"Our screens are based around mainly heart and lung disease, which are widely recognised to have a significant impact on the health of the nation," said Simply Health Chief Medical Officer Malcolm Stone.

The Department of Health said it had yet to receive the NSC's advice on private medical screening, but would consider its recommendations carefully.

Source: Reuters

Dr Ray has dipped his toe into the screening business with private aortic aneurysm scanning. Increased regulation will be unwelcome but the case for screening for aortic aneurysm has already been accepted in the UK and USA and it's just a matter of the government deciding who should be doing it and how they can cope with the entire cohort of 65-75 year old men all arriving for a scan on day one. For £50 quid I would not hang around while they decide how to "manage demand".

1 comment:

PPLIC said...

Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.