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Vascular checks scheme may 'widen health inequalities'

By Nigel Praities

The use of blanket vascular screening using non-NHS providers risks fragmenting the scheme and increasing health inequalities, warn Department of Health and NICE advisers.

The claim comes the same week as the Government's vascular screening programme was officially launched, with many PCTs looking to outside providers to do vascular checks in hard to reach groups.

The editorial from academics, members of the NICE Lipid modification guideline panel and Department of Health screening experts, raise questions over this approach.

‘The ability of non-NHS providers to co-deliver the risk assessment programme might be welcomed by the government, but uncoordinated and with inadequate information technology available, risks duplication of effort and challenges communication of data between the non-NHS provider and primary care,' the editorial says.

The experts say primary care should be adequately resourced to case-find, as the evidence for population-based screening is lacking and Government estimates of 75% uptake are unrealistic.

‘Many urban areas have had uptake rates of less than 30% for similar programmes and lifestyle change programmes such as smoking cessation have shown a social gradient in uptake, suggesting inequalities may widen without proactive case finding,' the editorial says.

The paper was published early online in Heart.

CV screening: plans to involve non NHS staff have been slammed CV screening: plans to involve non NHS staff have been slammed

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