Health checks could save 650 lives
Published on 23 July 2013 11:30 AM
Hundreds of lives could be saved every year if there was full take-up of NHS health checks, it is claimed.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes the checks, which are aimed at people aged 40 to 74, could save more than 650 lives annually if every eligible person had one.
He wants to see individuals thinking about personal health at an early stage, claiming it is vital to living a long and prosperous life.
In a bid to improve the nation's health, Public Health England (PHE) - which leads the programme - is stepping up efforts to improve provision and take-up of the checks.
Each check involves a few straightforward health tests and some simple questions about a person's medical history. The tests analyse cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and diabetes risk in order to identify any potential problems.
A PHE review says checking the health of 40-74 year olds in this way could prevent 650 deaths, 1,600 heart attacks and 4,000 cases of diabetes a year.
'Around 15 million people in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check that could identify serious conditions early and add years to their life,' said Mr Hunt.
'I'd like to see all 40-74 year olds taking up this potentially life-saving opportunity. And I'd like to see the NHS and local authorities encouraging people in their area to get involved.
'We are an ageing population and thinking about our health early is vital to living a long and prosperous life.'
65+ population to rise by 27% by 2020
It is predicted that the number of people aged 65 and over will rise by 27% between 2010 and 2020, while the number of those aged 85 and over will increase by 44%.
NHS Primary Care Trusts began offering the checks in 2009, but access to them has been patchy, which is why PHE has launched a 10-point plan to help councils provide them to 20% of their eligible local population a year, equating to 15 million people by 2018/19.
A website will also be launched in the not-so-distant future, showing how many health check offers are being made by each local authority, while people will be able to look up the details of their nearest health check service.
Copyright Press Association 2013