Review to consider personalised health checks

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced an evidence-based review into the NHS Health Check service.

The checks, currently offered to everyone aged between 40 and 74, aim to spot the early signs of major conditions that cause early death, including stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, they have been found to pay little attention to people’s individual risks or needs.

Therefore, the review will explore how to improve the system, with a focus on offering personalised interventions based on factors such as age, where people live and DNA. It will also explore: a special check-up for people approaching retirement age to help prevent or delay future care needs; increasing the range of advice the checks can offer; ways to increase the uptake of health checks; and the digitisation of health checks where appropriate.

The NHS Health Check programme has identified over 700,000 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and saved an estimated 500 lives each year since 2014.

Hancock said: “Personalised, preventative healthcare is mission critical to the future-fit healthcare service we want to build. We must harness the latest technology and techniques to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past.

“The review we are announcing today will be an important step towards achieving that, helping us to find data-led, evidenced-based ways to support people to spot, manage and prevent risks to their health through targeted intervention.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Health checks can save lives and prevent people from developing life-threatening conditions. Councils have done a tremendous job in inviting more than 14 million eligible people to have a check over the last five years, of which 6.8 million have taken up the offer. By engaging people in early conversations about their health, councils have helped people improve their health and reduce the risk of developing serious but preventable conditions. We are keen to do more to improve uptake, especially amongst the most high risk groups.

“We are pleased this review proposes a move to more tailored health checks. However councils have seen cuts of £700 million to their public health funding over the last five years which has impacted on their ability to continue the good work they have been doing. This is why we want the government to reverse these cuts in the upcoming Spending Round and invest in prevention to not only improve the health and quality of life of people but also reduce the burden on council services and the NHS."