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NHS: Pathology Services

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their latest estimate of the level of inappropriate pathology testing and its annual cost to the National Health Service.[HL7238]

No estimate of the annual cost of inappropriate testing is available. However, the independent review of pathology services in England chaired by Lord Carter of Coles, in its report published on 2 August 2006, copies of which are available in the Library, identified several possible factors which could lead to inappropriate testing. These included unnecessary repeat tests and the practice of defensive medicine. The independent review did not find robust evidence in this area but estimated that a figure of 25 per cent for tests carried out in primary care and repeated unnecessarily in secondary care following the patient's admission to hospital might be approximately right.

The Department of Health has accepted the independent review's recommendation to set up a series of pilot projects in England to build a sound evidence base on which to take forward reform of National Health Service pathology services, including reduction of inappropriate testing.