Reviewing the NHS Health Check programme

The NHS Health Check programme offers people information on how to reduce their risk and/or early treatment. Many of the recommended lifestyle changes also lower the risk of other diseases, such as cancer and lung disease.

Under the current ‘one size fits all’ guidelines, the checks are available to all apparently healthy people every five years until they reach 75. However, within this group some will be at higher risk of future disease and may benefit from earlier and more frequent health checks – while those at lower risk will need fewer checks.

To identify people with greatest health needs, researchers have been developing methods to use data from electronic health records (which all patients have), including measurements of the “risk factors” that are known to be linked with greater risk of disease. These include smoking, being older, being overweight, and having high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

GPs will be able to use this tool to estimate when individuals should next be invited for an NHS health check. This may help increase the cost-effectiveness of the programme while directly benefiting those at highest risk of future disease.

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