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GP surgeries to screen 40% of population from 2009

By Lilian Anekwe

GP surgeries are to be given the colossal task of screening everyone aged between 40 and 74 for evidence of heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the risk of stroke, starting next year.

Health secretary Alan Johnson today set out his plans to screen the group of around 24 million people, almost 40% of the population, following the Government's pledge to revamp national screening, made in January.

GPs already carry out checks on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight as part of overall patient care, but the modelling plans published today signals the Department of Health's intention to switch to a more preventative health care system.

The results of the DH's clinical modelling are ‘very promising and confirm that such a programme, for those aged between 40 and 74, will be both clinically and cost effective', according to Mr Johnson.

Pilots will begin this autumn, and if successful from 2009 all GPs will be asked to assess people through a combination of straightforward questions and measurement of height, weight, age, family history, smoking and blood pressure and a blood test for cholesterol. Further tests may be required for patients identified as at risk of diabetes and CKD.

Patients will then need to be individually followed up to help them manage their risk and where necessary arrange a referral to a specialist. The Government estimates the programme will cost £250m a year, but prevent 9,500 heart attacks and strokes a year – 2,000 of which would have been fatal.

Alan Johnson:health secretary plans for GPs to lead huge screening programme from 2009 Alan Johnson: health secretary plans for GPs to lead huge screening programme from 2009

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