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Home blood test kits ‘piling work on NHS’

Private companies are offering “misleading” home blood-testing kits that fuel health anxieties and pile pressure on the NHS, a report has suggested.

There has been a boom in sales of the kits, which promise to reveal everything from cancer risk to how long patients can expect to live.

But an investigation by the BMJ found these “unnecessary and potentially invasive tests” can be misleading and generate false alarms. The NHS is then left to “clear up the mess” as worried patients see GPs for reassurance or extra tests, piling more pressure on the overstretched service.

One GP described patients coming in “clutching the results of private screening tests”, with doctors asked to review the results.

The companies have been criticised for not providing sufficient follow-ups after the “poor quality and overhyped” tests, and for misleading results such as wrongly telling people their test levels are outside the “normal” range.

Bernie Croal, president of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, said: “Most of the online [tests] will send the results to the patient with at best a sort of asterisk next to the ones that are abnormal, with advice to either pay some more money to get some sort of health professional to speak about it or go and see your own GP.”

Doctors are calling for the tests to be more tightly regulated by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times, 27 October 2022


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