Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Online health checks are just scaremongering

I was sufficiently intrigued by your article on the Government's new online health checks to try them out for myself.

I was sufficiently intrigued by your article on the Government's new online health checks to try them out for myself.

I found the site without difficulty, but things went downhill after that.

The site is glossy and strikes a reasonable balance between 'hip' and serious, but it is very slow and fuels Celtic paranoia by failing to recognise postcodes outside England. We know health risks vary depending on geographical region and social class, but I'm not sure how sophisticated the software is that processes postcode data. Still, general practice has always been concerned with the individual not the community and true probabilities for the latter may be false when applied to the former.

This website has the potential to alarm fit, socially competent individuals and induce them to consult their GP. It has been shown that general health screening of the whole community has no positive overall health benefits, although many well people enjoy having a health check and gain a spurious sense of insurance against disease.

In the GMS contract, preventive care such as screening and immunisation is covered by specific additional or enhanced services. It is difficult to see how dealing with patients who are not ill but who fear, as a result of advice from an NHS website, that they might become so, might fit into the GMS contract.

If the Government is serious about encouraging people to use this website to consider their own individual health risks then GP care in this context should be recognised and paid for via a specific additional service. So should spontaneous consultations about possible future health hazards. Food for thought?

From Dr Lewis Miller, Belfast

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say