According to a charity investigation, a huge number of people in England have failed to attain the Health Check arranged by the NHS. The NHS Health Check was arranged to provide advanced help to people for issues such as diabetes & heart disease.
Moreover, data analysis by Diabetes UK reveals that in the last five years less than half of the people who are eligible for the “health MOT” have received one. To this Robin Hewings says, “It is absolutely vital that all people who are eligible in every area get a health check.”
The NHS Health Check programme was launched in 2009 in England. The aim of this programme was to facilitate people aging between 40 to 74 years with a routine check-up every five years so that they are able to detect and treat issues like type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and dementia. The examinations are often carried out by a nurse or healthcare assistant.
According to the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the local authorities are responsible for making use of the ring-fenced public health budget that they acquire from the government, to commission and monitor the programme in their areas.
The investigation by Diabetes UK stated that 15.4 million people were eligible for the NHS Health Check but only 6.8 million had one between 2013 & 2018.
There is also the news, which the data analysis by Diabetes UK has revealed, that people face a so-called postcode lottery when it comes to the NHS Health Check, with a five-fold variation between the best and worst performing councils. To all these, Jamie Waterall has quoted, “We are working hard to support every council to provide these vital checks.”
Among all the councils in England, Walsall council is the only council where the percentage of the eligible population receiving a check during the five year period is 91%. Whereas areas like East Riding of Yorkshire and Croydon holds the worst performing records with just 18% each. In response to this, Diabetes UK is urging councils to do more so that people may take up the offer of an NHS Health Check.
According to Robin Hewings, head of policy at Diabetes UK, “ The success of the programme in certain areas is due to local councils working hard to make it easier for people to attend these free health checks that only take 15 minutes and can help keep people healthy.” He further added: “it is absolutely vital that all people who are eligible in every area get a health check. If left undiagnosed type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications , including blindness, amputations, stroke and kidney failure, but with the right treatment and support people living with the condition can lead a long, full and healthy life.”
Nick Forbes, senior vice chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), in order to reverse cuts to councils’ public health budget called on the government. The LGA highlighted that between 2015 & 2020 these budgets had been sliced by £600 million.
He also said, “It is vital that the joined-up work between councils and the NHS is strengthened.” He also stated, “Councils have spent millions of pounds inviting more than 14 million eligible people to have an NHS Health Check over the last five years, of which around half have taken up the offer. However, if we are to continue to tackle or delay avoidable ill health such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in England, it is vital that eligible people get checked in order to increase uptake rates.”
He even said, “This will not only help people live healthier lives for longer, by identifying undetected risk factors and targeting high risk groups, but also reduce huge pressures and costs on the NHS, social care and councils’ public health services as well as wider society.”
Mr Forbes further added, “To reduce the variation in the number of offers and uptake across the country, it is vital that the joined-up work between councils and the NHS is strengthened and organisations, such as Diabetes UK, join our call for government to reverse reductions to councils’ public health budgets.”
Professor Jamie Waterall, national lead for the NHS Health Check Programme at Public Health England, said it was “working hard to support every council to provide these vital checks for people aged 40 to 70 years old.” The Department of Health was contacted to speak on this situation but it remains silent in commenting over the issue.