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Plans for clampdown on private tests

Government advisers are pushing for a clampdown on private medical screening amid fears it is dangerously underregulated and putting unacceptable pressure on GPs.

Sir Muir Gray, programme director of the National Screening Committee, told Pulse the whole industry would face close scrutiny and tough new regulations.

Patients can spend anything from £10 for a cholesterol test to thousands for a 'whole body scan', with GPs often left to pick up the pieces.

Sir Muir said: '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.'He said the current system was failing GPs: 'I don't think we've got a proper system of regulation at all for the independent sector.

'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".

'Medical bodies backed moves towards tougher regulation. Professor Mayur Lakhani, chair of the RCGP, said: 'Screening is becoming increasingly popular and is not without hazard if done in an unprepared way. Working to national standards would bring added peace of mind.'

But Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, questioned how effective regulation would be. 'You can't stop people who wish to be tested for things being tested for things.'

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