GP protest at premises freeze-out
A Government-funded commission is calling for the introduction of annual or biannual health checks.
A report by the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health recommends routine checks as part of a raft of measures to strengthen preventive medicine.
The document, submitted for consideration to health secretary John Reid, summarises the views of nearly 5,000 lay volunteers.
The commission, which was set up to involve patients in NHS decision making, is campaigning for a change in emphasis in the health service, with the focus moving to prevention rather than cure.
But GPs are united in their opposition to the proposals, which they see as unworkable and expensive – with 'phenomenal' potential to increase workload.
Dr Terry McCormack, deputy chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society and a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said the plan was unrealistic and of questionable value. 'People need to be aware that they get what they pay for. The public would have to dig very deep in their pockets to fund it,' he said.
Dr Graham Davenport, a GP in Wrenbury, Cheshire,
estimated the checks would consume an extra 1,000 hours a year per GP – a workload potential he described as 'phenomenal'.
He added: 'All these wish-lists are wonderful, but what patients don't realise is that you can't necessarily pick up something like cancer in a health check.'
Mr Jim Phillips, principal trainer for the expert patient programme, said: 'A yearly MOT could be a good idea', but he thought it would be difficult to decide how to
intervene if problems were detected.