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Diagnostic Testing

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much investment has gone into laboratory diagnostic testing since 1997; what assessment has been made of whether clinical diagnostics can cut down the costs of treatment on the NHS; and if he will make a statement on the benefits to be gained from early diagnosis of illnesses. [114701]

During the period 1999–2000 and 2001–02, the Department of Health invested 28 million capital through its pathology modernisation programme in National Health Service pathology services. Extra resources for the NHS were announced in the 2002 Budget, with an annual average increase of 7.4 per cent, above inflation—the largest ever sustained increase in NHS funding—over the five years from 2003–04 to 2007–08. As part of this, we are investing £54 million capital and £9.1 million revenue specifically in pathology services over the three year period from 2003£04 to 2005£06.It is clear that early diagnosis can benefit patients. For example, screening for early detection of diabetic retinopathy and laser therapy is effective in preventing visual impairment. Similarly, cancer screening is an important way to detect abnormalities at an early stage, allowing treatment when the cancer is most likely to be curable. We also recognise the benefits of early diagnosis for coronary heart disease in primary care and this approach is supported in the national service framework.