GPs are sounding the alarm over ‘over-the-counter and unregulated blood tests’

Leading doctors have raised concerns about the growing use of unregulated over-the-counter blood tests that promise to help users ‘take control of their health and catch problems early’.

The tests, which can cost up to £800, are being marketed as a product that can ‘predict how many healthy years a person has left’, spot genetic abnormalities or screen for a range of conditions.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the growing use of tests was a “genuine concern for GPs” and can cause “real worry and anxiety” for patients.

It comes after the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a survey concluding that the market for unregulated private blood tests is ‘booming’.

Yet the newspaper suggested that some of the claims made by companies selling the tests are ‘misleading’ and could place an unnecessary burden on overworked GPs.

Commenting on the report, Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical and Prescribing Lead of the General Practitioners Committee for the BMA, said: “The rise of private companies offering over-the-counter and unregulated blood tests that make dubious claims about what they can identify is a real concern for GPs and their NHS colleagues, who are often the only ones to interpret the results and reassure their patients.

“The UK National Screening Committee (UKSNC) makes clear recommendations about screening in this country – and which tests are safe and clinically necessary.

“While people are free to choose to access private healthcare and treatment, companies offering services not approved by the UKNSC or offered by the NHS must ensure that they can provide follow-up care. , rather than sending them back to NHS general practice at a time when family doctors and their colleagues are already under an unsustainable workload trying to meet the needs of the patients who need it most.

“Providing people with test results without context or explanation or any follow-up arrangement can cause unnecessary worry and anxiety, and it puts GPs in an incredibly difficult position if they are asked to interpret and explain the results of uninitiated tests and make decisions based on them.

“It shouldn’t be the job of the NHS to clean up the mess left by poorly thought out for-profit schemes like this.

“Of course, we will continue to encourage anyone with worrying symptoms or health conditions to approach their GP practice, as well as to use the approved and regulated testing and screening programs available through the NHS when ‘they are eligible and invited.’

An NHS spokesperson in England said: “At a time when GP-led teams deliver tens of millions of appointments each month, additional pressure should not be placed on their workload from potentially misleading information.

“People should use trusted sources of information, such as the NHS website, and if they feel unwell contact the NHS for expert advice, as they usually would.”

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