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LGA - Health checks could save your life – say councils
Having a health check could save your life – say councils, after new figures revealed they have prevented thousands of heart attacks and strokes.
The Local Government Association says regular health checks – which are commissioned by councils as part of their public health duties - are saving lives across the country by identifying early signs of potentially life-threatening conditions.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is warning that cuts to councils' public health budgets risks the future success of the programme and will significantly impact the essential prevention and health protection services they provide.
Since local authorities took over responsibility for public health in April 2013, more than five million people have had an NHS Health Check. Around 50 per cent of people invited for a check take up the offer.
The programme offers eligible people, between the ages of 40 and 74, advice to help delay or prevent conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some cancers and dementia.
A recent review by Queen Mary University of London found that up to 8,400 heart attacks and strokes have been avoided as a result of people taking up the offer to have a health check.
The review also revealed an increase in diagnosis of 30 per cent in new cases of diabetes, 50 per cent in new cases of hypertension and 80 per cent in new cases of chronic kidney disease in people who had an NHS Health Check compared to those who had not.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said:
"The evidence is clear, health checks can save lives and prevent people from developing life-threatening conditions, so that's why it's really important we get as many people as possible to book in with their doctor and have a check.
"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.
"The programme has meant that people who would have otherwise been undiagnosed have been able to take life changing steps to improve their health and wellbeing.
"Reductions in councils' public health grants of more than £530 million however will no doubt impact on councils' ability to continue this good work.
"We know that investing in prevention not only improves the health and quality of life of people but it also reduces the burden on council services and the NHS."
Notes to editors
- Research paper: NHS Health Check comorbidity and management: an observational matched study in primary care
- Checking the health of the nation: Implementing the NHS Health Check Programme
- Since taking over responsibility for public health in April 2013, local authorities have had a legal duty to deliver the NHS Health Check programme. As part of this duty they are required to offer the programme to 100 per cent of their eligible population over a five-year period. They are also required to improve the percentage of people having a check.
- Government has reduced councils' public health grant by £331 million from 2016/17 to 2020/21. This follows a £200 million in-year reduction in 2015/16.
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