Vascular checks may be ditched under Tory plans

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

Prof Mike Kirby: concerned
Prof Mike Kirby: concerned

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

'The cardiovascular risk assessment was not entered into on the basis of research. It was based on a NICE study that didn't regard it as cost effective,' he said.

'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 so it can be of better use to people with unhealthy lifestyles.

'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.

But Professor Mike Kirby, a Hertfordshire GP and Primary Care Cardiovascular Society member, said the idea of scrapping vascular checks at this time was 'very concerning'.

'We are a year in, and we should be doing an evaluation to look at the cost effectiveness of different models. Some PCTs have put a lot of effort into doing it well,' he said.

'We know we can make a difference because deaths from cardiovascular disease have fallen by 40 per cent over the past decade from GPs being proactive.

'It's now about whether the population will respond to being screened in this way. It is a big experiment being watched by the world and it might be a bit premature to axe it.'

Mr Lansley also announced plans for extra ring-fenced funding for PCTs and local authorities to improve public health, with bonus payments for good results.

A Healthier Nation also includes plans to ban cheap alcohol and raise tax on drinks associated with binge-drinking. Mr Lansley said he hoped to establish 'a new era of social responsibility'.

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