Health tests for over-40s to detect killer diseases

Health "MoTs" for everyone over 40 have been promised by the Health Secretary Alan Johnson in an attempt to cut down deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other preventable illnesses.

Three million men and women could be screened every year for major conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an annual cost of £250m.

A "vascular check-up" to detect risk of heart disease and stroke will be offered, with patients undergoing further tests for diabetes and kidney disease if they are thought to be at risk.

GP practices, community health centres and pharmacies are all likely to offer the tests, which will be rolled out from 2009. Health charities welcomed the move yesterday, saying it shifted attention to prevention rather than cure. But the plans came in for criticism from family doctors who said the burden on them would be far higher than the Government suggested.

Gordon Brown said the scheme represented "the future" of the health service.