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More NHS Health Checks needed, claims charity

Just half the people who are supposed to have an NHS Health Check in England are actually getting one, according to a new report published today by Diabetes UK.

The report, called NHS Health Checks in Local Authorities, shows that 6.4% of people aged 40-74 got one of the checks in the first nine months since responsibility for the programme switched from NHS to local government control. 

This is significantly less than the 11.25% of people in this age range Diabetes UK claims should be getting the check, which assesses risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.

The report highlighted concerns over the low proportion of offers for a check being accepted in some areas - suggesting they may not be being offered in the most effective way.

Diabetes UK is calling for areas that are not doing enough checks to learn from those areas where lots of people are getting the checks to improve their performance. It also wants more clarity on whose responsibility it is to deliver lifestyle support for those identified as being at high risk.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The NHS Health Check is one of the best new health initiatives this country has seen in recent years and, if rolled out properly, it has the potential to prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes and identify many people with undiagnosed type 2.

“But it will only have the maximum benefit if everyone who is supposed to get a health check actually gets one but at the moment that is not happening. Also, it is worrying that in some areas hardly anyone is getting one and in those areas it really need to be a priority to change this so that people get these checks wherever they live.

“It is also crucial that once people are identified as being at high risk or as having type 2 diabetes, they are offered support to make the healthy lifestyle changes that can improve their health.

“The potential benefit of the NHS Health Check for our nation's health is too high for us not to get it right. By helping prevent type 2 diabetes, it can play a key role in helping to finally bring the steep rise in diabetes cases under control. Also, by identifying people with Ttpe 2 identified earlier, they can play a part in reducing the rates of devastating health complications associated with the condition and so help give more people with type 2 diabetes the best possible chance of a long and healthy life.”

The target of 11.25% of eligible population is based on councils meeting the Public Health England vision of offering the NHS Health Check to 15% or more (in the first nine months of the year) and 75% of these people accepting the offer and having a check.