Health Secretary Alan Johnson today announced plans to offer health screening checks to everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 to help prevent and detect diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
The national programme will identify people who are at risk of these conditions. The Department of Health says vascular conditions affect the lives of more than 4 million people and kill 170,000 each year.
What the checks would involve
The checks would be based on straightforward questions and measurements such as age, sex, family history, height, weight and blood pressure. They would also include a simple blood test to measure cholesterol levels.
"Diabetes UK has for many years been calling for the establishment of active programmes to identify people with Type 2 diabetes early, to ensure appropriate diabetes care and treatment," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. "Those at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes should be targeted as part of systematic case finding, annual health checks and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Management Programmes.
"Diabetes UK very much welcomes the fact that screening for diabetes is included as part of the vascular checks announced today. We look forward to working with the Department of Health in the implementation of the programme. We have an important potential role in helping the Department identify and engage with the many people among disadvantaged groups who would benefit from screening and may not readily access it via a GP.
Thousands remain undiagnosed
"There are 2.3 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, and up to a further 750,000 who have Type 2 diabetes but don't yet know it.
Possible diabetes complications
"Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
Screening vital for early diagnosis
"Type 2 diabetes can be undetected for up to 12 years, and 50 per cent of people with the condition have signs of complications when they are diagnosed. This is why screening is so vital to the health of the nation."