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EDITIONS
NHS reform Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
NHS to tackle 'causes of ill health'
Preventing illness
The NHS will tackle the 'causes of ill health'
Since its foundation the NHS has focused on treatment and cure, rather than prevention of illness.

The national plan outlines proposals for tackling the causes of ill health and top of that list is cancer.

The government has pledged to expand screening programmes for identifying cancer early.

Every woman aged between 65 and 70 years will be screened for breast cancer. At the moment, it covers those aged between 50 and 64 years.

Some 400,000 women will be screened for the disease every year when the programme is fully implemented.

New programmes will be introduced to allow patients to be screened for colorectal and prostate cancer.

Ministers will also consider introducing an ovarian cancer screening programme and will study research findings to see if other cancers should be included.

The NHS plan also promises a NHS Cancer Research Network to be fully implemented by 2004.

The government is tackling heart disease by investing an extra 230m in cardiac services by 2004.

Rapid access chest pain clinics are to be established across England by 2003. These will aim to give early diagnosis of coronary heart disease and to reduce the number of deaths from heart attacks.

Waiting times for cardiac services will also be cut. Waits for heart surgery will be cut to six months by 2005 and to three months by 2008.

The national plan emphasises the need to identify life-threatening diseases earlier.

As part of that policy, free health checks will be offered to everyone when they retire from work.

GPs will be asked to draw up registers of patients to ensure that those most at risk of getting ill are receiving the right level of medical care.

Main ideas
Ensure the NHS tackles the causes of ill-health
Free health 'MoTs' for patients when they retire
Expansion of cancer screening programmes
Rapid access chest pain clinics across the country by 2003
Digital TV channel to give health advice
Doctors to prescribe diet and exercise
Healthy eating

Efforts will be taken to improve the overall health of the population.

A healthy-eating campaign will be launched and a National Fruit Campaign will see every child in nursery and those aged between four and six in infant schools receiving a free piece of fruit each school day.

Doctors will be encouraged to 'prescribe' diets and exercise programmes as well as drugs to improve patient health.

A new service NHSplus will be responsible for giving health advice to patients through a dedicated digital television channel.

The telephone helpline NHS Direct will phone patients to ensure they are taking their medication and to "check on" elderly patients to see if they are alright.

Money will be allocated to tackle health inequalities and, in particular, to target those living in deprived areas.

See also:

12 Jul 00 | Health
28 Mar 00 | Health
08 Jul 99 | Health
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