What is the reason for the large regional and local variation in health check take-up rates?
An analysis of local government figures has shown that more than half of those aged 40-74 are missing out on the NHS Health Check, diabetes campaigners have announced.
The Health Check programme offers a five-yearly check-up to everyone aged 40 to 74, with the aim of identifying individuals at high risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and dementia.
Individuals at high risk of developing diabetes are referred to the NHS diabetes prevention programme.
However, influential campaign group Diabetes UK argues that too few of those who are eligible have undergone the checking process in the past five years.
The charity noted significant regional variation in numbers of individuals who have been given the NHS Health Check. In the East of England some 50% of the eligible population attended the health check between 2013 and 2018, but in the South West the figure was as low as 35%.
The best performing local authorities reported attendance rates five times higher than the lowest performers. In Walsall almost all the eligible population received a health check (99%). The next highest proportions were reported by Bolton (91.7%) and Westminster (91%).
The analysis found the worst performing areas were the East Riding of Yorkshire and Croydon with 18% and followed closely by Surrey at 18.6%.
Local authorities (LAs) receive funding from Public Health England and have a legal duty to ‘seek continuous improvement’ in the numbers of people having the NHS health check.
Some 55 LAs delivered more NHS Health Checks in 2017/18 than in 2015/16, but the remaining 97 delivered fewer.
Estimates suggest 12.3m people are at increased risk of diabetes and nearly 1m people have type 2 diabetes but have not yet received a diagnosis.
Diabetes UK policy head Robin Hewings has urged local authorities to do more to get people to their health check: ‘The success of the programme in certain areas is due to local councils working hard to make it easier for people to attend these free health checks.’
Diabetes UK: NHS health check and diabetes
Healthcheck.nhs.uk: Explore NHS health check data
NHS England: NHS diabetes prevention programme