You can get an NHS Health Check if you're aged 40 to 74 and not already on a disease register.
If you're in this age group, you can expect to receive a letter inviting you for a check.
Don't worry if you haven't got your invitation yet, you will be invited for one over the next few years. If you've already had an NHS Health Check, you can expect to have another one in five years' time. If you're eager to take control of your health, you don't have to wait for an NHS Health Check – read about what you can do now.
If you're eligible for an NHS Health Check, don't miss out on the chance to have one, as you have a lot to gain. Find out more about why you should have an NHS Health Check.
Different places, different ways to get checked
Because the NHS Health Check programme is run by local authorities, how you get your check varies, depending on where you live.
If you are registered with a GP that offers NHS Health Checks, you will receive an invitation to go for your check every five years. This invitation will usually be sent to you as a letter, along with additional printed information. You may receive reminders about your NHS Health Check appointment by phone or email.
While the check is usually done in GP surgeries and local pharmacies, they may also be offered at other suitable and accessible places in your neighbourhood. In some areas, NHS Health Checks are offered by mobile units to passers-by (pictured); in other places, they have been offered at leisure centres.
Anna Sutton, from north London, was waiting for her son at Islington tennis club, a council-run leisure facility, when she saw a notice inviting people to have an NHS Health Check. "I had an hour to kill while Jack was at his lesson, so decided it would be a good use of my time."
Anna recalls that the check took place in an office at the club, sitting down with a nurse. "I think it took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and my results didn't need any follow-up," she says.
"There were quite a few parents hanging around waiting for their kids, so having an NHS Health Check then was a great way to pass the time."
In the London borough of Lambeth, specialist nurses carry out NHS Health Checks at health centres and in other locations, including church halls, mosques and libraries. Eloise Bowen, 60, visited Gracefield Gardens Health and Social Care Centre in Streatham after reading about NHS Health Checks in a newspaper.
Eloise, a retired teaching assistant, says: “I’d been feeling tired for a very long time, and was forever having to stop when I was walking because of shortness of breath.
"That day I made up my mind to go for the check, and thank goodness I did. The nurse took my pulse and found it was really low, so she sent me straight to hospital.
“After checking my heart, the hospital doctor told me that I had a blockage, which meant my heart wasn't beating properly.
You can read the full article about Eloise on the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS website.
For more information, find the NHS Health Check programme in your area.
'Getting your NHS Health Check couldn't be simpler'
Make an appointment as soon as you get your invitation
Dr Dawn Harper, a GP based in Stroud, says that getting an NHS Health Check there couldn’t be simpler.
"All you need to do is be registered with an NHS GP near where you live, and you will automatically be invited every five years. In my practice, we write to invite people for a Health Check, and if we don’t hear from them after a few weeks then we write again," she says.
"The important thing is once you get the invitation, you pick up the phone and make the appointment."
What you can do now
As well as making sure you're registered with your GP and keeping an eye out for any mobile NHS Health Check providers, there are other ways you can have your health checked before you receive an invitation.
Private health checks
Private health providers will offer the tests available on the NHS Health Check, but at a cost. It's worth remembering that you have a right to have these tests in the NHS Health Check free of charge, including any follow-up tests and appointments.
Bala Balenthiran first heard about the NHS Health Check when investigating having a private health check. On discovering that one was available on the NHS, he went to his GP practice in Earley, Reading, and was invited for a check soon after. Find out how Bala got on at his NHS Health Check.
Ask your pharmacist
If you feel unwell now
If you're worried about your health, don't wait for your NHS Health Check. Contact your GP or call NHS 111 for advice.
Some pharmacies offer NHS Health Checks, but whether they offer this service or not may depend on where you live. It's worth asking your local pharmacist if they can help.
They will also be able to sell you a home-testing kit for cholesterol, although these are often not considered to be as accurate as cholesterol tests done by a health professional.
Many pharmacies and gyms have "wellness kiosks", which are machines where you can check your weight and blood pressure, and answer questions about your family history and lifestyle. Your results will give you an indication of how healthy you are for your age.
Online tests and tools
There are many online interactive tools and self-assesments that can help you immediately build a picture of the state of your health.