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NHS Health Checks

Last Modified 17/09/2021 14:51:24 Share this page


In the UK, high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption are the top seven causes of preventable death1. The Department of Health estimates that the NHS Health Check programme prevents 1,600 heart attacks and 4,000 people from developing diabetes each year. It also detects 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease earlier each year. Estimates2 suggest that the programme will pay for itself after 20 years and deliver substantial health benefits.

The NHS Health Checks programme aims to prevent and detect heart disease, stroke, diabetes, types of dementia and kidney disease. People invited for a check are aged 40 to 74, have certain risk factors or have not been diagnosed with one of these conditions. This is offered once every 5 years. During the screen the individual’s risk of the above diseases will be assessed; support and advice or treatment will then be offered where necessary about reducing or managing risk.

Facts and figures

Note: During Covid-19 lockdown periods the NHS Health Check programme was paused. Figures below are presented up to 2019/20 (end March 2020), with only the last quarter of the reporting period significantly impacted by the pandemic. Some commentary is also provided below about the suspension-affected 2020/21 period.

The 2015/16 to 2019/20 (5 year cumulative) data shows that 23,450 (56.2%) people aged 40-74 in Blackpool have been offered an NHS Health Check compared to 46.4% nationally.  35.3% of those who were offered a Health Check have received one (compared to 41.3% nationally).

Figure 1: NHS Health Checks 2015/16  to 2019/20  -  5 year cumulative data 

Health checks 15-20

 Source: PHE, NHS Health Check Profile
    • In 2019/20, 7,784 people aged 40-74 in Blackpool were invited for a Health Check
    • 3,315 people received a health check in the same period. This is 7.9% of the overall eligible population, a level similar to the national average of 8.1%
    • 42.6% of those invited took up the chance to have the check, lower than the England average of 45.9%

Figure 2: Proportion of people aged 40-74 who have been invited for and who have received an NHS Health Check in 2019/20. Blackpool compared to the North West and England

Health checks 2019

 Source: PHE, NHS Health Check Profile

2020/21 data reflects the impact of Covid-19 and the suspension / reduction of health checks during this period. In Blackpool 808 people were invited for health checks, with 713 receiving them. Similar reductions are reflected at national and regional levels, though the proportion of the eligible population invited in Blackpool (2%) was lower than the England average of 3.1%. The proportion taking up the offer of a health check in Blackpool over this period (88.2%) was, however, higher than the England average of 43.7%.

NHS Health Checks are recognised as having a clear role in the UK Goverment's Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, and as of Autumn 2021 the programme was in the process of restarting.

National and local guidance

A collaborative resource which brings together national and local resources aimed to support those involved in commissioning and providing the NHS Health Check programme.

PHE's NHS Health Check Best Practice Guidance (October 2019, updated March 2020) provides information and guidance for commissioners and providers on Health Check service delivery, risk assessments and communication.

NICE advice [LGB15] Encouraging people to have NHS Health Checks and supporting them to reduce risk factors highlights NICE's recommendations published up to November 2013 that cover the type of activities that could support NHS Health Checks.

[1] Murray, Christopher JL et al. (2013) UK health performance: findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, Volume 381, Issue 9871, 997-1020, March 2013

[2] DH, Economic Modelling for Vascular Checks, A technical consultation on the work undertaken to establish the clinical and cost effectiveness evidence base for the Department of Health’s policy of vascular checks, July 2008