Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Government ‘wasting £140m a year on NHS Health Checks’

The Government’s flagship cardiovascular disease prevention programme is ineffective and wasting £450m a year in ‘scarce resources’, a group of leading academics has claimed.

The team, from the London School of Economics (LSE), said the approach may ‘at best’ prevent around 1,000 deaths a year, at a cost of up to £450,000 per death avoided.

The researchers, led by Professor Walter Holland, emeritus professor of public health medicine and visiting professor at LSE, said forcing NHS staff to ‘commit time and scarce resources to activities of debatable effectiveness’ was ‘sapping morale’, particularly given ‘substantial opportunity costs of failing to invest those scare resources in alternative, more effective interventions’.

They estimate costs will ‘spiral’ even further now that NICE has ‘roughly doubled’ the number of people eligible for preventative treatment with statins under the scheme, by lowering the primary prevention threshold to a 10-year risk of 10% or higher.

The damning report, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Public Health, goes on to assert that many Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England staff ‘privately agree’ that the programme is costly and ineffective – and calls for an independent health body to be set up to give ministers ‘objective, scientific advice on public health’.

In a response published in the same issue of the journal, PHE advisors on the NHS Health Check programme insisted modelling had shown the programme ‘could be cost-effective compared with other NHS activities’ and that they are committed to using ‘emerging evidence of cost-effectiveness to demonstrate the economic value of the programme relative to other interventions the NHS and local government may wish to make’.

In a statement, Jamie Waterall, National lead for the NHS Health Check programme at Public Health England, commented: ‘Two thirds of deaths under 75 are preventable, such as strokes and heart attacks, and the NHS Health Check aims to help people take action to prevent these diseases in a systematic and cost-effective way.’

He added: ‘Each component of the Health Check is evidenced and aligned with NICE guidelines.’

J Pub Health 2015; 37 (2): 187-192

Readers' comments (4)

  • Why are these people talking about evidence, since when has that got anything to do with Government Policy?

    If NHSE are admitting that privately then they really are gutless rats.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Me do think Jamie Waterfall will be looking for a new job soon. A Royal Commision on the future of the NHS is an absolute need to stop this political rubbish skewing everything

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Ivan??????!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Where are you Ivan? It's between 8 and 8 so I guess you are at work.......

    How you gonna spin this?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

IMPORTANT: On Wednesday 7 December 2016, we implemented a new log in system, and if you have not updated your details you may experience difficulties logging in. Update your details here. Only GMC-registered doctors are able to comment on this site.