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Slow progress on NHS Health Checks

NHS Health Checks are not reaching the people who need them.

The MHF highlighted the importance of these check-ups as part of this year's Men's Health Week and is worried that they appear to be going to 'waste'

Set up by national government but delivered by local NHS organisations, NHS Health Checks target adults between the ages of 40 and 74. The programme is a good way to get checks done in men but it needs promoting.

This month, the BBC and others carried a report Over 40s missing out on heart checks, adding that ‘millions of patients may miss out on checks designed to spot potentially fatal conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.’

MPs back the campaign

As part of our Men’s Health Week campaign we worked with the NHS, government and politicians to try to improve services like NHS Health Checks. MPs of different parties backed our campaign and asked the government what they were doing to increase the programme’s profile and to support the organisations delivering it on the ground.

The MHF has seen some of the replies sent by the government and the NHS to MPs about the scheme. The NHS re-iterated its commitment to NHS Health Checks and said that ‘delivery and coordination is being further strengthened and improved before the transfer to local authorities next year’.

However, a letter to Tom Brake MP confirms the MHF has reason to be concerned. NHS South West London's letter said that between April and December 2011 13% of those eligible were offered a check and of those 45% had a check. There was no breakdown of these figures by gender but the Forum’s work shows that men are often under-represented in such programmes.

Checks need to be appropriately marketed

Writing to Chi Onwurah MP, the minister for public health confirmed that PCTs have been provided with extra funding for NHS Health Checks. She also said that the national design of the programme was so that it could be assessed in different settings, something the MHF recognised as a great step forwards.

Colin Penning, the MHF’s external affairs officer who worked with MPs on the campaign said ‘The minister pointed out to MPs that we had been given funding in 2008 and 2009 to look at access to services. This expertise that tells us that NHS Health Check must be appropriately marketed to men. It’s a fantastic scheme that could make a real difference to men’s health; it would be a tragedy to let it go to waste.’

PCTs started to implement the programme in 2009 and it should be available across England now. As the recent news story reported, a fifth of areas expect to miss the target of reaching 20% of their patients this year.

Page created on August 21st, 2012

Page updated on August 22nd, 2012