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Monday 24th June 2019

Gaps in TB screening in the UK

30th July 2012

Experts fear that people most at risk of developing tuberculosis are not being screened in some parts of the UK.


As latest statistics show a rise in new cases of TB, there are growing concerns the national programme for high-risk groups is not being implemented in areas with the highest incidence.
Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, head of the TB section at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), said guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) should be implemented and that the screening programme needed urgent attention.

“TB is a very important condition and we should do more to tackle it, said Professor Abubakar. “If you deliver a screening programme you have a chance of reversing the tide of TB.”

There were 9,000 new cases of TB in 2011 with 70% occurring among recent migrants to Britain from countries where the disease remains prevalent.

NICE last year also recommended a co-ordinated screening programme to detect latent TB among the most at risk migrant groups but evidence has emerged that 40% of primary care providers are failing to implement it.

Professor Ajit Lavlani of Imperial College London said: “The parts of the UK with the highest burden of TB were exactly those parts doing the least screening for latent TB, so the opposite of what should be the case.”

Identifying patients with latent TB could halt the rising spread of the disease.

Birmingham has the highest TB rates in the UK after London and consultants there say they are “overwhelmed” in their efforts to try to combat the disease.


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