Residents missing out on health checks

Health First CLC business manager Sharon Sargent with Denise Hallworth having a health check at The Galleries Wigan
Health First CLC business manager Sharon Sargent with Denise Hallworth having a health check at The Galleries Wigan

Almost 20,000 residents a year are missing out on a free heart health check being offered by Derbyshire County Council.

The NHS Health Check programme is aimed at people aged between 40 and 74 who feel generally well and are not already known to their GP for existing cardiovascular conditions.

Derbyshire County Council funds the testing programme as part of its public health responsibilities to catch problems early and reduce future health and social care costs.

But although the tests are free, only 60 per cent of the residents who qualify are taking up the offer. The council is aiming to increase this to at least 75 per cent over the coming year.

Cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, is a significant cause of premature death and disease in Derbyshire.

Coun Dave Allen, Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for health and communities, said: “Although residents who qualify for the test are directly invited by letter they are not booking in. This may be because they feel well and therefore complacent about their health.

“The test is free, quick, simple and painless and conveniently carried out at local GP surgeries. The results are immediate and can provide peace of mind or, more importantly, diagnose a hidden condition which could develop into a serious long-term illness.

“In our opinion prevention is certainly better than cure and we are urging people who receive a letter to book in for the test. Finding and tackling health issues early can prevent a lot of potential problems in future.”

Around 237,000 of Derbyshire’s 770,000 residents qualify for an NHS Health Check.

The programme runs on a five-year cycle in which 47,000 residents aged 40 to 74 are invited for the test each year. Usually, only around 28,000 book in.

The work is part of a national NHS health risk prevention programme and contributes to the county council’s commitment to reducing health inequalities.

There are large differences in life expectancy between residents in different parts of the county – in some areas a gap of 13.5 years – and the council is committed to using its public health resources to reduce this gap.

Work includes supporting local food banks and credit unions, offering healthy lifestyle advice and partnership work to improve housing standards and create warmer homes.