Wales ahead of the game in free health checks
WALES will not be following England’s idea to offer the over-40s free health checks.
The Welsh Assembly Government last night said screening is already provided for people at high risk of chronic diseases.
But it is exploring ways of strengthening existing screening for conditions such as cardiac disease, stroke and diabetes.
The English Health Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday announced that everyone aged 40 to 74 will be offered screening for illnesses that kill 170,000 people a year.
The check-ups are intended to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
It is expected that the English scheme will prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes and save 2,000 lives every year.
A blood test to measure cholesterol will also be included in the regular check ups.
Doctors last night criticised the idea, saying that healthy patients will be seen at the expense of the sick.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said, “While we would like to welcome this, as prevention is undoubtedly better than cure, we have serious concerns about the pressure this will put on an already overstretched general practice.
“Whether it is nurses, GPs, healthcare assistants or pharmacists who do these checks, there is not currently the workforce, the time in the day, or even the space in our surgeries to carry out this number of consultations.
“At the moment all our appointments are booked up with patients who are in immediate need of medical care.”
A spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly Government said, “In Wales, GPs already monitor high-risk patients and provide lifestyle advice to manage that risk.
“We are currently looking at ways of strengthening that approach for cardiac disease, stroke and diabetes by introducing a more co-ordinated approach.
“We cannot comment in detail on the latest proposals for a nationwide screening programme until we have had an opportunity to study the Department of Health announcement.”