More people than ever are getting the NHS Health Check, according to new figures released today by Public Health England (Wednesday 28 May).The figures show that 1,382,864 people had the check, which tests 40 – 74 year olds for their risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and kidney failure, during 2013/14. This is nine per cent of the eligible population and is an increase from 7.9 per cent the previous year.Diabetes UK has welcomed the increase, as the programme has the potential to help find the 7 million people who are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and the estimated 630,000 who have Type 2 diabetes but do not know it.The charity says it is really important that these people are identified so that they can get the support that they need to either reduce their risk of developing the condition or start treatment if they already have the condition to reduce their risk of devastating complications.
Still too many people are missing out
But while today’s figures are encouraging, the charity says that there are still too many people who are missing the opportunity to get the check, with less than of half the people who are offered the check taking it up.Diabetes UK is urging everyone aged 40 to 74 who has not had an NHS Health Check to contact their GP to ask for one.Bridget Turner, Diabetes UK Director of Policy and Care Improvement, said: “It is good news that more people are now getting the NHS Health Check, because as a result of having the check they will now be more aware of their risk of Type 2 diabetes and what they can do to reduce it.“There is, though, still more work to do as less than half of those offered the check are taking up the offer and there is still variation across England in the numbers of people getting the check. We need to find out why this is happening so that those who can most benefit from having the check are getting it.“This is why it is really important that the improvement we have seen over the last 12 months is sustained and that funding for the programme continues to be ring fenced.“As well as improving the number of people getting a Health Check, we also need to make sure people identified as being at high risk of Type 2 diabetes are then offered the intensive lifestyle interventions that can help prevent it. So far, not enough of these programmes have been commissioned and there is still a lack of clarity about who is responsible for commissioning them. This needs to change if we are to meet the huge challenge of turning back the rising tide of Type 2 diabetes.”