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NHS Health Checks in local authorities

NHS Health Checks, cardiovascular risk assessments for people between the ages of 40 and 74 years, are an important and integral part of Type 2 diabetes prevention.

It is estimated that Health Checks could prevent 4,000 people a year from developing diabetes, if fully implemented.

Health Checks can also help to identify those who are unaware that they have diabetes, and so enable them to get access to care and treatment to reduce their risk of life threatening complications. The estimated savings to the NHS budget nationally are around £57 million over four years, rising to £176 million over a fifteen-year period. It is estimated that the programme will pay for itself after 20 years, as well as having delivered substantial health benefits.

Diabetes UK has previously raised concerns about the implementation of theNHS Health Check programme in the report Let's Get it Right (PDF, 582KB).That report highlighted the poor and patchy implementation of the NHS Health Check programme so far and made a number of recommendations to make it a higher national and local priority, including a call for a national implementation team for the programme and an assurance that the programme would not suffer in the transition to local authorities in April 2013.

We are publishing this report a year after the delivery of NHS Health Checks became the responsibility of local authorities, to look at performance so far and to highlight some examples of successful implementation. We hope that it will be useful in supporting local delivery.

This report describes the position by the end of December 2013 (nine months into the transition) and finds that local authority performance is slightly better than the performance of PCTs in the previous year, but still below what would be expected at this stage if they are to offer to Health Checks to 20 per cent of their eligible population – the expected amount – over the course of the year. It also finds considerable variation between local authorities and wide variation within regional areas and between neighbouring local authorities.  Of particular concern is that only 6.4 per cent of the eligible population have actually received a Health Check – less than half of those who were offered one.

Diabetes UK welcomes the progress that many local authorities are making to increase the uptake of NHS Health Checks and is pleased to see an improved performance since transition last year. This improvement needs to be supported and sustained. We also have welcomed the commitment of Public Health England to the programme which has the potential to make a substantial impact on reducing the numbers of people developing Type 2 diabetes and its devastating complications.

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