Tories threaten to axe vascular screening in GP surgeries

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has signalled that he may scrap the vascular health checks being rolled out across England if the Tories are elected.

Mr Lansley has a cholesterol check at Nuffield Health's launch of its Health MOTs (Photograph:Anthony Upton/PA Wire)
Mr Lansley has a cholesterol check at Nuffield Health's launch of its Health MOTs (Photograph:Anthony Upton/PA Wire)

At the launch of a new green paper on public health, A Healthier Nation, in London on Wednesday Mr Lansley said the checks were not adequate.  

'The cardiovascular risk assessment was not entered into on the basis of research. It was in fact based on a NICE study that didn't regard it as cost-effective,' he told delegates at a public health lecture in London.

'Therefore I think in part, the cardiovascular assessment is how I don't want to do it. You know, you have a great idea in the bath and tell someone to go and design it.'

Mr Lansley said the idea would at least have to be redesigned to be of more use to people with unhealthy lifestyles.

'Locally I think public health [organisations] are likely to use it. If it is not forced on GP practices, and there is wider access in pharmacies, it can be designed in a way that helps people look at their lifestyles more broadly,' he said.

Mr Lansley announced extra ring-fenced funding for PCTs and local authorities to improve public health, with bonuses payments for the best results.  

A Healthier Nation also includes plans to ban the sale of cheap alcohol and tax drinks associated with binge-drinking more heavily.

Mr Lansley said he hoped to establish ‘a new era of social responsibility' rather than legislating against unhealthy lifestyles.

The 'unit' system may be replaced with a simpler volumetric measure of the amount of alcohol in a drink, and people will be encouraged to think about 'social norms' rather than castigated for binge drinking, he said.

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