Public Health England has launched a drive to improve the coverage of the NHS Health Checks scheme in order to reach its goal of providing them to 15 million patients by 2018/2019.
The body has a goal of inviting 20% more eligible people locally each year, and will soon launch a 10-point plan to help local authorities to start offering NHS Health Checks.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged patients to take up the offer of an NHS Health Check and ‘start thinking more seriously about their health’, in a publicity campaign aimed at trying to increase uptake of the Government’s flagship programme.
The programme is set to be rolled out across the whole of England over the next five years, as part of Mr Hunt’s ambition to save 30,000 lives a year by 2020 under a new ‘living well for longer’ policy.
Pulse revealed last week that GPs will be ‘at the centre’ of a major drive to expand the reach of NHS Health Checks by Public Health England, with plans to boost the take-up by 50%.
Public Health England (PHE) estimates that the programme – which involves checking blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and lifestyle of all people aged 40 to 74 years – will prevent 650 deaths, 1,600 heart attacks and 4,000 cases of diabetes a year.
However, the evidence for its impact on outcomes is also mixed, with some GPs questioning whether screening everyone in this age group is a cost-effective approach.
Mr Hunt said: ‘I’d like to see all 40 to 74 year-olds taking up this potentially life-saving opportunity. And l’d like to see the NHS and local authorities encouraging people in their area to get involved. We could save 650 lives a year if there was full take-up.’
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at PHE said: ‘NHS Health Check programme offers a real opportunity to reduce avoidable deaths and disability, and tackle health inequalities in England.
‘We must do more to increase uptake and referral to appropriate risk management services, particularly in those communities at greatest risk, to remove blocks in processes that get in the way, and make sure the programme is of consistent high quality across the country.’