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NHS 24 health checks scheme 'a waste of money'

By Laura Passi

A health check service for all people turning 40 in Scotland has been condemned as a waste of money by GPC Scotland.

The Scottish Government scheme - modelled on the English 'health checks' scheme - will be run by NHS 24 and invites everyone turning 40 in Scotland for a health assessment, starting next week.

Users will take a self-assessment questionnaire over the phone or online and then receive advice on improving their health, which could include a visit to their GP.

‘Life begins at 40' will cost £285,000 for 2011/12 but is part of a package of services aimed at the over 40's, costing nearly £15 million.

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of GPC Scotland, said the idea was poor value for money and would do nothing to improve health inequalities.

‘We don't think it is a good idea, there are better things they could be spending their resources on. NHS 24 would be better concentrating on their core business which is providing a service rather than doing this.

‘There is evidence from the health checks in England that is a very costly process that doesn't actually provide value for money, so we don't support it and have made that clear to the Government. They should be addressing health inequalities, which this won't do.'

Scottish public health minister Shona Robison defended the scheme: ‘In today's tough economic times we need to be as efficient as possible and that means maximising our investment in the health of the Scottish people. By investing in health services fit for the 21st century we can save lives.'

‘Prevention is better than cure and we are dedicated to doing all that we can to identify those at risk from as early as possible. It's important that people are encouraged to check their health and we want to make it as easy and convenient as possible.'

Dr Dean Marshall

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