Press release

NHS Health Checks

Recent media coverage has called into question the effectiveness of the NHS Health Check programme.

Man receiving a health check

Public Health England (PHE) took over responsibility for overseeing implementation of this programme in April 2013 with local authorities being given the task of rolling out the programme to 20% of their eligible population (40-74 year olds) each year over the next 5 years.

Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director at PHE said,

We know that there is a huge burden of disease associated with conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease and that many of these long term conditions can be avoided through modifications in people’s behaviour and lifestyles, and this is what the NHS Health Check programme aims to do.

Estimates carried out when the programme was introduced by the Department of Health in 2009 showed that NHS Health Checks could prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes, at least 650 premature deaths, and over 4,000 new cases of diabetes each year. At least 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease could be detected earlier allowing individuals to be better managed and so improve their quality of life.

In July, Public Health England, alongside the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), NHS England and the Local Government Association, published a statement on the evidence base behind NHS Health Checks.

Our statement outlined that although we recognise that the programme is not supported by direct randomised controlled trial evidence, there is nonetheless an urgent need to tackle the growing burden of disease which is associated with lifestyle behaviours and choices. All elements of the health checks follow well recognised and evidenced clinical pathways approved by NICE and the existing relevant evidence, together with operational experience accruing on the ground, is compelling support for the programme.

As part of PHE’s management of the programme, an Expert Clinical and Scientific Advisory Panel is being established. This panel will be responsible for reviewing emerging evidence and research needs. It will also promote future research, development and evaluation of this programme. The economic modelling behind the programme will also be refreshed to update the assumptions in the light of new information and experience.

Notes to editors

See the evidence statement and implementation and action plan published by PHE in July 2013.

More information about NHS Health Checks is available on the NHS Choices website.

Published 20 August 2013