Practice nurses will be expected to give patients advice on dementia risk as part of NHS Health Checks, Public Health England has announced.
PHE said staff in primary and community care should use NHS Health Checks to explain that maintaining a social life, keeping mentally and physically active, as well as stopping smoking can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Local authorities are expected to incorporate dementia in the programme within the course of the next year.
PHE said this comes as 52% of adults list dementia as one of their top health concerns but only 2% are aware of all the actions they can take to cut their risk.
Public health minister Steve Brine said: ‘Early detection and prevention are vital to the health of our nation and our programmes in this area are among the most ambitious in the world.
‘Our aim is to keep everyone as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, which is why we are introducing advice on dementia prevention as part of our free Health Checks.’
The news comes as the NHS Health Check programme has been dogged by poor uptake and complaints that it is not cost-effective, with a recent study suggesting that even in the most deprived areas, the Health Check scheme would not be cost-effective until 2040.
PHE deputy chief nurse Jamie Waterall, national lead for cardiovascular disease prevention, said they have set up a special group with a specific brief to ‘tackle the variation across local authorities in uptake numbers’.
He said: ‘This will include working via the regional PHE centres and the NHS Health Check Local Implementation National Forum…’
‘In addition, we are also working with the PHE Behavioural Insights team and marketing and have piloted approaches to improve uptake including digital marketing and texting phone reminders, which have proved effective and are being rolled out.’