Occupational Medicine
Health Checks
The Comprehensive Screen
Health Check for Men
Health Check for Women
Heart Attack and Stroke Risk
Other Services
Glossary of Tests
ENG1 Seafarers Examinations

An Overview of Screening

The purpose of medical screening is to detect the presence of disease at an early stage in order to effect a cure or alter the course of the disease for the better. By considering the family history and the living environment of the individual it is also possible to highlight any potential for disease. To be useful, a screening test for a given condition should be able to discover the condition reliably, and there should be a known benefit to having the condition uncovered at an early stage.

The National Health Service provides a number of screening services, but the only screening service that actively targets all people, in a population at risk, is the cervical cytology program for the detection of changes that might herald the development of cancer of the cervix. General Practitioners are encouraged to carry out other screening tests (for example blood pressure), but these checks tend to be carried out on an opportunistic basis when the patient attends the surgery for other reasons, or when the patient has recently joined the GP's list and is offered a brief health check.

Your GP will be happy to carry out the most important screening tests upon request - for high blood pressure, diabetes and cervical cancer - and these tests will be free of charge. Your GP may also agree to check for other problems such as high cholesterol and prostate cancer, but you will probably need to discuss this first.

At IMS we offer 'one stop' health checks where you can have screening tests carried out along with a look at your current state of health. It is important to distinguish between tests which have a predictive value and those that simply show the state of your health at the time. For instance, if your blood pressure is raised we can predict that there might be problems attributed to it in the future, and we know that reducing the blood pressure will be protective. However, the fact that your Electrocardiogram is normal today gives us no clue as to whether it will be normal tomorrow - it can't predict a heart attack.

In an effort to be transparent about what examinations and tests can show (and can't show), and what they can predict, we have provided further information on each of the examinations and tests that we offer at IMS. Click here to go to that page, or click on the links that you will often see when a test is mentioned to find out more about that test.