GPs hit out at private companies’ unregulated blood tests

High street blood tests that pile pressure on the NHS are a growing concern for GPs, the BMA has warned.

Responding to an investigation by the BMJ into private blood tests, which found some made misleading claims not backed by evidence, it voiced concerns at the impact these have on an already stretched NHS when clinicians are asked to follow up results.

Dr Preeti Shukla, BMA GP committee clinical and prescribing lead, observed there had been a rise in the number of private companies offering over-the-counter unregulated blood tests – and GPs and their NHS colleagues were often left to interpret the results and reassure their patients.

She said ‘The UK National Screening Committee (UKSNC) makes clear recommendations around screening in this country – and those tests that are safe and clinically necessary. 

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

Dr Shukla complained that providing people with test results with no context or explanation, nor with any follow-up arrangements, could cause unnecessary worry and anxiety.

And she said it put GPs ‘in an incredibly difficult position’ if they were asked to interpret and explain results of tests that they had not initiated and make decisions based on them.

‘It should not be the NHS’s job to clear up the mess left from ill-thought-through profit-making schemes like this.’