GPs say they should no longer be expected to treat patients based on the results of private blood test kits.
Concerned about an increase in fashionable private health kits, which people can easily buy while doing their weekly shopping or online, leading doctors say the NHS shouldn’t pick up the pieces when test users get the results.
It is not acceptable for doctors to ‘interpret, explain, discuss or provide feedback’ on private tests, says a new position statement from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).
Surgery won’t turn patients away, but fear being swamped by the “worried pit,” seeking answers to inquiries not arranged by their GP.
So the RCGP has issued a stern warning to the manufacturers of blood tests, which can cost up to £800, including products sold to check cholesterol, test for the risk of various conditions, detect genetic abnormalities or tell people how much ‘healthy years’ ‘ They have gone.
GPs say they should not treat patients based on home blood test kit results [Stock photo]
According to Professor Kamila Hawthorne, President of the Royal College of GPs, these private companies should no longer expect the NHS to step in and explain people’s results.
She said: ‘More and more people are trying these tests because they are so well advertised and easy to buy, and people are telling themselves they need them.
“But some of these tests have not been tested themselves, do not have an accredited ‘aviator mark’ or badge to show that they are reliable and trustworthy, or that they could give a false positive, or tell a patient that they are negative.” when they are not.
‘People can be very confident in something that has a medical-sounding name and a nice label, but the advice from GPs is: don’t buy these tests unless you think you have a very good reason to do so – for example a family history of the condition for which being tested.
“We see patients in our surgeries who are upset because of misleading or inaccurate self-test results, which they could have saved.”
In 2018, a survey of 500 doctors found that 91 per cent had seen a patient for an NHS appointment in the past 12 months to discuss the results of a private health screening.
In three-quarters of cases, this led to further deployment of NHS resources, such as a follow-up scan, blood test or appointment.
In 2019, the RCGP released a statement saying that private screening companies should not assume GPs handle their results.
But as the tests have grown in popularity, the Royal College language has become much stronger.
The new position says: ‘All providers of self-test kits should provide expert advice on interpretation and monitor the impact of their test on GPs’ workload.
“It is not acceptable for providers to expect GPs to interpret, explain, discuss or provide feedback on unproven screening tests, especially if they are not routinely used in general practice.”
In October, the British Medical Journal published the results of an investigation showing dozens of UK companies are offering private blood tests for a range of conditions and deficiencies, with some making misleading claims, unsupported by evidence, leaving an already overworked NHS behind. up ‘abnormal results’.
Bernie Croal, president of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, pointed out that five percent of test results are expected to be outside the normal range, so very few people would not have “abnormal” results even if nothing was wrong . with them.
The RCGP was particularly concerned about private companies offering tests for strep throat A infections, especially late last year when many parents panicked over the rising number of cases and deaths in young children.
In most cases, Streptococcus A heals on its own and only in relatively few cases causes serious illness when it enters the bloodstream or deep into the body. little benefit to patients.
The Royal College is urging people to ‘be careful’ when it comes to blood tests, and would like to see a ‘kite mark’ or accreditation introduced for privately purchased tests to clarify which are reliable and based on good scientific evidence .
As well as causing unnecessary anxiety, the RCGP is concerned that ‘normal’ results of tests bought rather than ordered by a GP could falsely reassure people so they no longer think they need help for worrisome symptoms because they think they are not sick.
The organization also wants test kits to let people know if the test is available free of charge from their GP practice so they don’t spend money unnecessarily, and to ask their GP if they really need the test.
Professor Hawthorne said: ‘We actively encourage patients to be interested in their health, but if they need to be tested for something, we will tell them.’