GP guidance on private screening highlights 'potential harm'

Guidance on the advice GPs should give to patients considering private screening has been issued by the UK National Screening Committee (NSC).

Private screening guidance will enable GPs to help their patients make informed choices
Private screening guidance will enable GPs to help their patients make informed choices

NSC director Dr Anne Mackie exclusively revealed plans for the guidance in an interview with GP last October.

The guidance seeks to highlight patient safety and the potential harm to patients from endorsing screening that has insufficient evidence to show benefit, the NSC said.

It has been produced in response to approaches made to GPs by private firms offering screening tests to patients, the committee said. Private tests are available for a range of conditions, including abdominal aortic aneurysms, heart failure and carotid artery stenosis.

Launching the guidance, Dr Mackie said: ‘Patients are increasingly turning to their GPs for advice, and we hope that this guidance will enable practitioners to help their patients make the choices that are best for them.'

Steve Laitner, a GP and consultant in public health medicine, said there had been a notable increase in the number of patients being offered private screening tests. ‘GPs provide valuable advice and support to patients in this area and I hope that this new guidance will help them in supporting their patients to make fully informed screening decisions,' he said.

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