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Patients to order own tests

The Government wants patients to be able to order their own diagnostic tests as part of a major new initiative to encourage self-care.

A new Department of Health strategy document said it aim-ed to 'enable people to book routine tests as and when they need them, rather than requiring them to go to a GP for permission'.

The department added that it wanted to 'involve people in interpreting results so they understand what action needs to be taken and why'.

The document lists a number of examples already running of patient self-referral, including a scheme providing access to reviews for rheumatology and Parkinson's disease, and another offering blood tests for HbA1C and cholesterol in high-street pharmacies.

The department refused to provide details of its proposals, but GPs said they sounded 'completely insane'.

Dr Des Spence, a GP in Glasgow, said: 'We struggle interpreting some of the results for the tests we do ­ God only knows what this will lead to.

'Clearly people being responsible for their health is a good thing. My concern is that this is just going to engender more anxiety and health-neurosis.'

The new document, called 'Supporting people with long-term conditions to self-care', also pledges to increase access to equipment for self-monitoring.

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