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Health check scheme for over-40s

The government is poised to launch a programme of health checks for the over-40s, which it claims could save 650 lives a year.

Invitations will be sent out every five years to all those aged between 40 and 74 in England offering tests to identify their risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

The NHS scheme, which will be officially launched on Wednesday, will see more than two million people assessed each year, and ministers believe the checks could potentially prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes annually.

The Department of Health said the programme would be fully in place within four years. It will also include two other measures: cancer patients will be exempt from prescription charges and MRSA screening will take place in hospitals.

Health secretary, Alan Johnson, said: "There are a number of different commitments that we are delivering on, which will start from this April.

"The national programme of health checks could save 650 lives a year and reduce the health inequalities that blight the lives of the country's most deprived families."

Primary care trusts will design their own plans to implement the programme based on the needs of the local population.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"A big yes. In fact, this is a fantastic idea because people are so concerned about making a living that health is always the last one to consider, and when someone in the health department is asking you to come to the surgery for a visit/or check-up then you know that is something that need to be done; therefore you will find the time for it. Well done." - Rinaldo, London

"How I agree with Carol King and I Davidson. We pander too much to the worried well already, people are encouraged to use the NHS when perhaps they dont need to. What part of NHS provision is going to be starved of cash to make way for this? Community, social or elderly care for instance; mental health services which are conspicuous by their absence in my area; drugs to treat Alzheimer's or cancer, perhaps? Most people of 40 are capable of understanding what is now healthy behaviour without medical and nursing intervention. There is more information out there than ever before, yet attendances for 'urgent', 'emergency' and unscheduled care centres including ED departments are rising at an unsutainable rate. What about universal healthcare for all, not just those that are capable of
looking after themselves?" - B Lucas, Swindon

"It amused me that when this was on the news it was a GP doing the check! Ha ha! I can really see that happening!" - Janette Drury, West Bromwich

"I would be willing to go for health checks, I work long and difficult hours. Would there be extra funding and additional staff to take on the responsibility?" - D Gordon, London

"I think this will attract the worried well. Is there to be some funding attached to the DH desire to introduce this?" - I Davidson, Somerset

"a) Who is going to do all these health checks? b) Will anyone other than the 'worried well' attend - those most in need of the assessment and advice probably won't!" - Carol King, Derbyshire

"Many, including me, won't visit the surgery unless invited for a health check. So it's a great incentive for the calling and motivation otherwise people just plod on in their daily lives." - L C Perks, Swindon