segunda-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2008

Gordon Brown pledges a 'new age' for the NHS

The Prime Minister has announced a new National Health Service programme designed to screen patients for the warning signs of many killer diseases.

Gordon Brown promised to move the NHS into a "new age" by offering a service more akin to that offered by private health providers.

In his first major speech on health since becoming Prime Minister in 2007, Mr Brown said: "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.

"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.”

Millions of people will be given the new health "MoTs" designed to detect and protect against "lifestyle" diseases including heart attacks, strokes and diabetes which kill 200,000 people every year and account for a fifth of all hospital admissions.

The tests are to be targeted at middle-aged men and patients vulnerable to disease.

Those eligible will be chosen using postcode studies to identify residents in areas with high rates of the conditions.

Speaking to an audience of health professionals in London, Mr Brown also announced plans to make key diagnostic procedures such as blood tests, electro-cardiograms (ECGs) and ultrasounds available in local GP surgeries, to help cut waiting times.

He outlined moves to meet the Government’s target of a maximum 18-week waiting time from diagnosis to treatment.

The national screening programme will be the first of its kind in the world, set up to spot the early signs of heart problems, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. It is intended to provide the sort of wellbeing tests generally available only to private patients.

Speaking before the official announcement, Mr Brown told GMTV: "What I want to have is a 21st century, modern health service that people think is rightly personal to your needs.

"So if you want a check-up, if you want screening, if you want a preventative vaccine, if you want advice on health and fitness, the health service is there for you.

"And, it is a preventative health service so it is preventing illness as well as dealing with illness."

In the next few months Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, is to set out plans to introduce NHS tests to identify vulnerability to a range of heart and circulation problems.

Vascular screening, to be introduced this year or early 2009, will include a series of blood, fat and sugar tests in GP surgeries, alongside questions on age, gender, postcode, family history, height and weight.

Those identified as being at risk will have access to treatment, advice and support to make necessary lifestyle changes to avoid ill-health.

The Prime Minister said that, in its 60th anniversary year, the renewal of the NHS is the Government’s highest priority.

"Amongst global healthcare systems, the NHS is uniquely well-placed to deliver a transformation in the relationship between patients and clinicians," he said.

“This is a worthy mission for an institution as great and as significant in our lives as the National Health Service and it is a transformation I ask you all to be a part of.”

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