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PCTs falling behind on vascular screening

The Government's flagship vascular checks programme experienced a ‘disappointing' take-up from patients in the first quarter of 2011/12, amid fears that the number of patients being given health checks is falling short of national targets.

Some 209,121 patients received a health check between April and June, equating to just 1.3% of the eligible population, with 20 PCTs not offering a single person a health check across the three months.

While cumulative figures were not available as Pulse went to press, ministers have set a target for 18% of the eligible population to have received a health check by next April – a target which now looks difficult to achieve.

A Department of Health spokesperson acknowledged uptake had been ‘a little disappointing' for the first quarter, but said PCTs planned to ‘progressively increase' the number of health checks offered throughout the year: ‘We will be working with SHAs to help ensure that PCTs deliver against their plans. It is important to remember that the quality of the NHS Health Check provided is also key.'

Professor Mike Kirby, a GPSI in cardiology and visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire, said: ‘PCTs have become distracted because of the change in Government, and this programme has not been flagged up as a priority.'

'Commissioners are thinking about how they will commission services for people who are ill, and not about primary care prevention. It's a pity because this programme was a real move forward for primary care prevention. It needs LES funding.'