BBC News online today quotes Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, as saying he wanted a more "personal and preventative health service".

Gordon Brown wants screening to identify patients at risk
A new screening programme in England for early signs of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes is being announced by Gordon Brown.

Such conditions affect about 6m Britons and at-risk patients could be screened by their GP or by a private contractor.

Ahead of his first major speech on the NHS since becoming prime minister, Mr Brown said he wanted a more "personal and preventative health service".

He is also outlining plans for more diagnostic tests in GP surgeries.

These will include blood tests, electro-cardiograms (ECGs) and ultrasounds, in a bid to meet the government's target of a maximum 18-week waiting time from diagnosis to treatment.

Speaking to an audience of health professionals in London on Monday, he will say: "A more personal and preventative service will be one that intervenes earlier, with more information and control put more quickly into the hands of patient and clinician.

"Over time, everyone in Britain will have access to the right preventative health check-up."

He will say: "There will soon be check-ups on offer to monitor for heart disease, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease - conditions which affect the lives of 6.2 million people, cause 200,000 deaths each year and account for a fifth of all hospital admissions."


ANH comment

We believe the PM is incorrectly labelling, and therefore misleading the public, over differences between improved screening or monitoring as compared with prevention. The plans revealed today are not reflective of a "preventative healthcare service", which would need to deal fairly and squarely with the key risk factors of disease. The plans revealed today in a meeting with health professionals are primarily about using screening technology to assist with early detection of disease. It is simply wrong to think of these plans as being components of a preventative healthcare system, as they do not deal with the underlying causes of disease.

The World Health Report 2002 describes in detail how, in most countries, a few major risk factors account for much of the morbidity and mortality. For noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis (which provide the greatest burdens on most healthcare systems) the most important risks included high blood pressure, high concentrations of cholesterol in the blood, inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Five of these risk factors are closely related to diet and physical activity.

These concerns spawned the WHO's Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health of 2004, which seems to have been brazenly ignored by Mr Brown.