The number of people having free NHS Health Checks in Wolverhampton has soared - thanks to a new partnership with local GPs.
Available to eligible 40 to 74-year-olds once every five years, the Health Check assesses the individual’s health and identifies relatively simple lifestyle changes they could make to lower their risk of developing serious but preventable conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and dementia. They enable GPs to help pick up problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol at an earlier stage and to offer support to help patients go smoke free, reduce their alcohol consumption, manage their weight or increase their physical activity levels. The Health Checks are commissioned by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Public Health team and Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group and available from all local GP practices.
Until recently take up in Wolverhampton was very low, with less than one in five people choosing to have their free check. In response to this, the Public Health team streamlined the programme, working with GPs to ensure the right systems are in place to ensure the number of people being invited for – and actually attending – their Health Check increases. This work included developing the computer system used by GPs so that a pop up appears when they are speaking to eligible patients reminding them that they should book their health check, providing “point-of-care” finger-prick blood testing for instant test results and giving GPs regular feedback about targets and achievement.
As a result of these changes, Wolverhampton is now performing well above the national average, with over half of eligible residents invited to have their Health Check last year taking up the opportunity. In 2018, over 11,000 residents were invited for a Health Check - 7,000 more than in 2017. Some 6,000 residents had theirs, compared to 3,500 the previous year.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “The Health Check provides a real chance for people to take control of their own health, and it is encouraging to see so many more people in Wolverhampton taking up this opportunity. It is an important chance for doctors to identify and address undiagnosed conditions that people are living with before serious health problems develop. Very often simple lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthily or doing more exercise, can make a huge difference – so if you have had an invitation to a Health Check, please accept it.”
Dr Salma Reehana, Chair of Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “Health Checks are an important aspect of preventative medicine. As a collaborative work with Public Health, this is a great opportunity for the people to get their health status checks and take measures to prevent cardiovascular illness. Our GPs have worked hard in improving the number of people getting this advice and we are very grateful for their hard work. It would be good to have more such collaborative work in the future for the benefit of our population.”
To find out more about NHS Health Checks, please speak to your GP or visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/nhs-health-check.
The Government recently announced it would be looking to make the Health Check programme more personalised to enable it to better support the NHS Long Term Plan, which is committed to preventing 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia each year.