NHS Health Check

Your NHS Health Check guide

What is an NHS Health Check?

The NHS Health Check is a sophisticated check of your heart health. Aimed at adults in England aged 40 to 74, it checks your vascular or circulatory health and works out your risk of developing some of the most disabling – but preventable – illnesses.

Think of your NHS Health Check as being your "midlife MOT". It checks that some of your body's most important systems are all running smoothly. Among other things, your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI will all be checked and your results given to you. 

Crucially, your NHS Health Check can detect potential problems before they do real damage. Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented.

Your NHS Health Check will assess your risk of developing these health problems and give you personalised advice on how to reduce it.

It's free of charge, including any follow-up tests or appointments.

Why the NHS Health Check is important

Thousands of people have already had an NHS Health Check. They are now armed with information and support to reduce their risk of developing heart and vascular problems. Why not join them?

Together, the vascular conditions identified by the NHS Health Check are the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK, affecting more than 4 million people.

Every year, the NHS Health Check is expected to help:

  • save 650 lives
  • prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes
  • prevent 4,000 people from developing type 2 diabetes
  • detect at least 20,000 cases of type 2 diabetes or kidney disease earlier

If you want to avoid being a statistic, it's worth making an appointment for an NHS Health Check as soon as you get your invitation.

Find out more about why you should have an NHS Health Check.

How to get an NHS Health Check

You'll be invited for an NHS Health Check every five years if you are between 40 and 74 years old, as long as you don't have an existing vascular condition.

You'll usually get your NHS Health Check at a GP practice or local pharmacy, but it could happen at other convenient places in your neighbourhood, depending on where you live. Find out more about ways to get the NHS Health Check

Even if you don't qualify yet for an NHS Health Check, there are plenty of other ways to build up a picture of your health.

Start by taking the online heart age test now to see how healthy your heart is. 

What happens at the NHS Health Check

At the check, you'll be asked some questions about your lifestyle and family medical history. You'll also have some routine tests. From these, your healthcare professional will be able to give you an idea of your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. As well as a breakdown of your results, you'll get an overall score giving your risk of getting heart disease or stroke. If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia, and you'll be made aware of memory services nearby.

After your results have been explained, you’ll be offered personalised advice and support to help stay healthy, and lower your risk if any of your results need improving. This advice could include suggestions on small changes to your diet or how much exercise you should take if your risk is low or moderate.

If you are at higher risk, your healthcare professional might want to discuss whether you should be taking medicines to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, along with help to take action such as losing weight, becoming more active or stopping smoking.

By having a routine NHS Health Check for these conditions every five years, you can take action early and greatly improve your chance of a longer, healthier and happier life. You may be surprised how some small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference.

How the NHS Health Check will help

Once you've had your NHS Health Check, you'll have a good idea of what your risk is of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. There are some risk factors for these diseases that can't be changed; for example, your risk increases with age. But there's a lot you can do to reduce your risk. You can:

Your NHS Health Check will give you information and support to help you reach your health goals and enjoy a better quality of life. By acting to reduce your risk, you'll have more chance of dodging the debilitating and potentially disabling effects of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.

For more details, read FAQs about the NHS Health Check.

Page last reviewed: 01/05/2014

Next review due: 01/05/2016


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The 74 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mrs Sabateeny said on 12 July 2015

My invitation came with a leaflet. I have now been chased to make an appointment. Before I do, I want to know the risks involved in Health Checks. I know that the NHS often understates risks. Nowhere in the invitation letter or the accompanying leaflet does it mention any risks other than saying that I may be prescribed medicine after attending Health Check. I know family members who have regretted taking preventative medicine which has impacted badly on their lives. Why is there no information to allow patients to make an informed choice? Does anybody know where the information is held on risks and negative outcomes following a free NHS Health Check. Why does no other country offer them?

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V1lmos said on 01 July 2015

I agree with others. Theis Health Check is a waste of time. It tells you nothing you do not already know. There is no conversation on wellbeing just some pre-scripted areas of health which bypass all other wellbeing factors. It allows the NHS to collect data for sharing and selling, pushes healthcare to private companies, and encourages blame of ill-health to be passed to patients. There is not mention of 'luck' in being diagnosed with these illnesses. In fact, the health care worker I saw could not explain or understand how changing my lifestyle would impact so little on my overall risk. I calculate with the changes in lifestyle I improve my 10 year risk by 1%. That is too little to worry about, let alone keep checking and missing out on the fun things in life.

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Babauta said on 25 June 2015

I have been offered a Wellbing MOT. I am not sure if this is the same as the NHS Health Check. It seems to offer the same tests and says it supports the NHS Health Check. The invitation does not say if it is the same, but it looks the same in many ways. I asked my GP who told me not to bother as she provides my current care and screening for problems.

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RaffleShake said on 23 June 2015

My health check was a joke. The nurse or health assistant (they never said but wore a tunic) was a little stupid and could only do basic things. They give me only basic advice such as drink Elderflower water instead of having a glass of wine every now and then. When I asked "why?" they seemed a little lost in the reasons. It was like they had only completed half their training of 4 hours or so. They had no understanding of health or wellness, and very little knowledge of what the tests were and why they may or may not have been relevant. I will not have another health check from NHS. You can learn so much more from family, friends and the internet. This is a cheap and simple process which makes the NHS feel better about care but in truth it is not a health check. Half of patients never accept the invite and I think this uptake rate will reduce if my check is anything to go by.

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Cajunkate said on 13 June 2015

It is very unhelpful to call this 'an NHS health check'. I felt scammed when I responded to a letter for this. It is NOT a health check; it is only a cardiovascular check. This is clear from this website, but it is NOT clear in the letter that is sent to patients by their GP: the title 'NHS Health Check' leads one to an entirely different conclusion. I took valuable time out of my schedule to attend the surgery for this exercise, which I had no need of. I knew my cholesterol, blood pressure, life style and family history factors and I know exactly what they mean for my cardiovascular health. I felt patronised to be called into the surgery for a so-called 'health check' which was not an overall health check at all. Where's your transparency, NHS?

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Combto0th said on 09 May 2015

Move to Stockport. The NHS Health Check is being offered to patients aged 35 to 75 who are lucky enough to live in the area
Yet again NHS resources are not evenly spread and service levels differ.

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Jettasun said on 03 May 2015

The Vascular conditions which seem to make you ineligible for the Health Check at any point in the future includes;

Coronary heart disease
Heart failure
Irregular heartbeat
High blood pressure
Stroke (including TIA )
Kidney disease (when at stages 3 to 5)
Inherited high cholesterol
A build up of fatty deposits in your arteries
In receipt of palliative care
If you are already taking statins
If you are taking any blood pressure medication

You also have to be registered with a GP.

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KLI Don said on 27 April 2015

Mrs DavidCaruso makes a very good and valid point. The NHS Health Check invitation does not mention any harms that could be suffered as a result of the checks or the subsequent interventions.

Patients understand there are risks and benefits but the NHS simply has a pro-intervention agenda which is not always in line with patients expectations or desires. Some NHS invites are now being sent with the day and date already 'booked'. This is a long way away from patient choice and patient autonomy.

Any medical check that does not list the possible harms is not one I will attend. I want to know the facts and evidence before making a decision.

Each time the NHS pushes its own agenda above those of patients leaves us less likely to trust them.

I do not trust the handling of my data, simply because they did not ask me before sharing it. I do not trust them for medical advice, as they do not tell me the pros and cons.

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Mrs DavidCaruso said on 23 April 2015

Will not be having one

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Mrs DavidCaruso said on 23 April 2015

Have had one of the patronising letters , telling me its 'free' well of course it is, and telling me its 'due' er no its not as I am not having one . It seems that its a chance for the nhs to push statins and since statins nearly destroyed my Husbands health and our marriage there is no way on this earth that I will be taking them.

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Lil Cory said on 05 March 2015

It is a good idea User716414. The NHS supports time wasting like no other enterprise. How else do you explain Health Checks that offer no significant benefit, and are offered without any mention of the potential harms or being referred for more treatment when there is no sympton. The NHS is now spending money (my money and yor money) reviewing the health needs of heathy people to either tell them they are healthy (in which case the money is wasted) or move them on to a lifetime of drugs, like statins which may create more health issues down the line. The NHS is an industry which grows every year. It has a limitless desire to spend money and will continue to ask for more and more money from hard working people. It is time for a rethink.

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User716414 said on 03 March 2015

You all need to think about the NHS, it is not as it was, blame the government for dismantling it, giving budgets to councils that are neither competent nor qualified.
It is being privatised under your noses.
Fight for your NHS or we will have the system of places like America. Insurance, no? No medical care. Then you'll moan.
If you don't want a health check don't go.

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Sara4Tune said on 03 March 2015

Hi Lorraine

I have also experienced pharmacists who are motivated by profit rather than patient care. Although pharmacists should operate under a code of practice it is so poorly written (by the pharmacy profession) they can get away with bad selling and bad advice.

I no longer ask my pharmacist for advice as I know it will not be independent and they will see it as a sales opportunity.

Meal Replacement schemes earn the pharmacist and the supplier lots of money and it is a regular income as you are required to buy the products every week. It is far more profitable per patient than selling a single packet of pills or lotions.

The NHS no longer functions to benefit patients. It is a marketplace and as the saying goes 'buyer beware.'

Good luck in finding your own way to lose weight over a sensible time period.

Good luck


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lollyrs said on 02 March 2015

I had my health check last week. My blood pressure was slightly raised ( but the day had been quite stressful. ) My weight is too high which I know and my waist too large which I also know. I do struggle managing a hectic job with food and overeat when stressed.
What I couldn't believe was the pharmacists persistence in trying to get me to sign up for meal replacements lipotrim at a cost of £45 per week . She insisted that this is approved by GP's and has been passed down to chemists to sell and monitor, she said there was a plan so that I could get advice after 12 weeks on maintaining my weight by the maintenance plan. She also said is was great as I would lose a stone in 2 weeks.
I don't really agree with meal replacements and I haven't seen any one on lighter life or similar actually keep the weight off after the replacements stop.
I would rather healthy advice was given and wonder what the NHS thinks about this ?


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Francis5 said on 23 January 2015

I went to my local library centre to have a health check and it was a shambles. There was very little privacy. The event was organised by a private firm working for NHS called ICE creates Ltd. They do not create anything. They fill in forms, ask a load of pointless questions, check some basic things about your body and then give you unrealistic goals to fulfill without any clear instruction or understanding. There is no time to discuss anything of any help. They provided handwritten results which mean very little to anyone. Useless all round.

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HeinLein said on 05 January 2015

Where are the lists of harms caused by Health Checks recorded? The NHS England seems to be very clear that people attending these checks should give informed consent. This means the benefits and harms of tests should be set out for the attending patient. My three invitation letters do not mention any potential harms of either the tests of the treatments that I may be encouraged to complete. Why is this? Why does NHS Choices distance itself so far away from any negative comments or thoughts and why not provide a full and honest information resource for all treatments including the Health Check.
I attended and will not do so again. It was a complete waste ot time and money. It was no help. It provided no new information to me.

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Sauced said on 29 December 2014

This is not a health check. It only covers a very small number of health issues. Other health issues are not addressed during the check. It is best described as a simple heart check or perhaps a cheap motivator to act more healthily. It has no real health benefits so do not expect a health check.

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Abzad33 said on 28 December 2014

I was invited to my NHS Health Check about 1 month after attending a New Patient Health Check when I registered at my local GP surgery practice. When I phoned to say that I had already had an extensive health check which included all the tests of the NHS Health Check I was told it was not the same. I said it would be easier just to use my test results from a month ago but I was told this would not allow the NHS to make a payment and therefore I should attend. It seems to me the Health Checks are primarily aimed at providing additional income for some GP surgeries and also some private companies who undertake them. It also keeps some of the local council employed. It seemed the response had no thought that as a patient I had already been assessed and this was enough for another five years. The NHS remains highly inefficient and no wonder so many people are simply not bothering to attend these pointless checks where there is no evidence they actually work at imrpoving health.

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Spidar said on 21 December 2014

After 14 years since my 40th birthday I received an invitation for a heath check. I had no option of when or where to attend so had to take time off work. I had a 35 minute wait to be move through to give over basic information and answer some broad lifestyle questions. All very unhelpful. "How much alcohol do I drink each week?" "It depends, sometimes nothing sometimes a lot. " "Just pick one that seems about right" - so much for science ! I was weighed, measured, pricked andwrapped with a cuff but nothing unexepected. Then a full 6 minute debrief on my results. I should drink less, try and do more exercise - pathetic examples given at what I could try - Patronising 'well done' for no smoking - my marijuana consumption was not even asked about let alone factored in the results. I was told I was in "poor overall health" and "had to change". There was no time to discuss any health condition or ailment - I was not sure the person doing the test was actually medically qualified. She could not explain cholesterol at all - but it didn't matter to me as mine was within a normal range.

Overall, not worth waiting 14 years for. All pointless. All messages were benign and smug. No patient empathy. No helpful results. I cannot see me returing.

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aDness1 said on 20 December 2014

The Department of Health vascular policy dictates 'Everyone attending a NHS Health Check assessment should be provided with general lifestyle information and advice on or within three months of the start date of the NHS Health Check.' So it does not matter how well you are or how well you manage your health you will always be offered general lifestyle advice/ What sort of medicine offers everyone advice regardlesss of need? This is a waste of money. I was eager to take a health check assuming there was some real science behind it. Basically, it is a list of tick boxes which goes in to a really basic calculator to tell you a risk of suffering from vascular problems. The rest of the advice is the same old nagging and telling offered by everyone. Eat healthy, stay active, lose weight, drink in monderation. It is a dull message delivered in a dull setting by a dull health care provider. It is not individual. Nobody knows who you are, other than a set of numbers to be collected and summarised. My test provider ticked three 'advice given' boxes when all they did was hand me some leaflets. This is not advice or help.. The better advice is simply to see your family GP when you feel unwell enough not to manage ill health at home. Use other places for more detailed lifestyle advice and how to enjoy life. Do not expect any surprises. The people who attend this sort of thing are always the sale people that attend every medical event and who see their GP regularly.

They are also throwing in dementia checks for older participants in desperation to make this check look value for money. It is pointless looking for ill health in healthy people and a waste of money.

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FieldsFresh said on 15 December 2014

According the the Public Health England 'priorities for research' the Health check programme systematically targets the top seven causes of preventable deaths: high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.

Why does this website not mention drinking and eating as a major part of the check? It seems that there is something to hide in the process. Why not be completly upfront with patients and readers and tell them everything that is covered - especially the parts they may not want to hear. The health check only exists to pressure patients to change lifestyles which in turn saves NHS money. It has nothing to do with well being.

The health check is failing. The majority of patients invited (or pre-booked in some cases) never attend. Patients are not stupid. They soon see the reasons for the health check and the collection of data.

The paper goes on to ask 'Should we, and can we, gather evidence on those who do not engage with NHS Health Check or do not attend?'

Consent should be required. For consent to be given the patient has to understand what they are consenting to. NHS choices should be more complete and honest with this experimental programme.

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Softas said on 29 November 2014

The reason that the Health Check is such a bad experience for people is because it is not an NHS or medically considered screening programme. The NHS Health Check is specified in secondary legislation, and its implementation is the legal responsibility of local councils and local authorities. Local Authority Regulations (2013) set out who should receive an NHS Health Check, the assessments that should be undertaken and how the check should be conducted. Amending or introducing new content requires the approval of ministers and parliament. This has nothing to do with what a good family GP would want or discuss. This is why as many people do not bother with the free screening as they understand they will be better served by attending their GP when they have a problem or wish to discuss ways to prevent ill health.

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User258657 said on 19 November 2014

I am 53 and my husband is 60. We have never ever been invited for a health check, and certainly not every 5 years!! When I searched for the programme in our area (see above) it referred me to our GP. I did ask at the GP surgery about it 2 or 3 years ago and was made to feel I should only be asking if I had a problem and as a consequence I didn't push it any further.
A lady at work was invited for a check within days of her 40th birthday which is why I was looking into it again.
This site should certainly be changed as it is not true that everyone is invited every 5 years.

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Aspect Emp said on 11 November 2014

My GP surgery has sent out a newsletter on 40-74 health checks. They tell me that if risk factors are high then "lifestyle choices will have to be tackled." This sounded very agressive and offensive to me. I thought the NHS would present the results and offer advice not insist or force me to change everything about the way I live. I will not attend.

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scriv said on 10 November 2014

Another point I don't like about the Health Check is the inflexible and limited BMI calculation for weight assessment which just works on height and weight without consideration of build/ bone density/ muscles etc. My very toned athletic daughter registers overweight without any fat in sight and I can be 'Normal' at one measure of height but just by taking off one inch of my height, I become ' Overweight' and getting flagged up as a cause for concern on the computer program. No wonder there is a high proportion of people recorded as Overweight.

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McKelvey said on 07 November 2014

scriv has written my views also. I am very unhappy about the poor control and judgement used so far by NHS in sharing data and do not trust this data will stay secure. In fact the law allows confidential information to be shared outside the NHS in various forms and at various times without patient consent. Confidentiality does not mean Private. I have also been hassled to attend a heatlh check even though I do not need it or want it. Like many people I understand the simple lifesyle choices needed to minimise the risks and see no point in having screening tests. The point made by scriv to hold a discussion with your family doctor is the most sensible advice. It seems that the health checks are already failing. They are late and behind schedule in being rolled out and attendance levels are often below 50% of those invited. The attendees are likely to be poeple already engaged with their GP and the benefits are very low. This is a waste of resource for the NHS. It was introduced as a political move not a clinical move. It has little to do with health care. I wonder if any doctors have attended a health check.

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scriv said on 06 November 2014

PS I omitted to say that I already get a yearly check up including Blood Pressure etc

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scriv said on 06 November 2014

For several reasons, I actually do not want one of these Health Checks and have declined the invitation twice. I am very aware of Health risk issues and what I should be doing and about health care issues and know that everything is in order as I have a very healthy lifestyle already, am not obese and do not smoke or drink outside of the guidelines.
One of the reasons is that I am not at all happy about how the data is shared.
I would also prefer discussion of this nature with my GP with all my personal facts before us, rather than a prescripted computer risk assessment.
Despite declining twice, I have still received two text messages telling me my appointment was due and I do wonder about whether this money could be much better used.

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Tyresa Smith said on 29 October 2014

I was disappointed by my health check. I was unable to discus any current medical concerns and was simply told I was generally alright but should think about exercise. It took 20 minutes and was rushed and there was no expert available to give advice. I doubt I will go again in 5 years.

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User914766 said on 24 October 2014

In Reply to debs49. Your LE11 postcode Health Check programme is arranged by Rutland County Council. They have arranged for health checks to be carried out at local GP surgerys.

There is no entitlement to a Health Check. NHS England aim is to have all councils spend enough money to offer a health check to all eligible patients. Unfortunately many councils are behind in reaching this target.

Your council is doing better than many and is on track to achieve full coverage over the next five years. The timing of being invited is luck but everyone should be expected to be invited over the first 5 years of the roll-out (from 2013).

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debs49 said on 23 October 2014

i am 49 and have never been called for a nhs healthcheck ? my husband is 54 and also has never been asked to go for a nhs healthcheck and we are both at the same surgery ? it says on this website if you are aged between 40 and 74 you are called for a healthcheck every 5 yrs ? why havent we ? we live in le11 area

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Ibdaa said on 22 October 2014

I was alarmed to be told I should attend my health check at a pre-set time, date and place. If I do not attend as it is not conveninet will my GP be told that I did not attend and will this be marked on my GP record.

My GP practice has clear focus on patients missing any kind of appointment and threaten to de-list me as a patient if I fail to attend appointments.

Why are the Heath Checks not booked by telephone or online and let the patient choose when it is convenient? Does the NHS not realise some people work or are otherwise engaged?

How long can I delay the health check?

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Loose Canton said on 21 October 2014

There is no mention of the possible harms that can be done by screening, and especially screening apparently healthy individuals to look for possible future problems.

Why is there no decision aid for Health Checks?

Why is there no reference to harm on this mini-site?

Under the heading of choice in the NHS this website says 'choice only works when you have the information you need to make the right decision for you.'

The articles here are all 'spun' and do not provide all the relevant information. Why? Patients need to undersstand the in-built bias to the advice being given, by NHS England for NHS England services. The medical information may have some element of peer review or clinical credibility but these screening sites are pure advertising and propoganda and set by a political agenda. They seem to have little to do with informing patients and helping them make a choice.

It feels that NHS choices does not trust patients to make their own choice.

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Mopelia said on 19 October 2014

My Health Check was noting like the Health MOT I had expected. I assumed that like a car MOT the tests would tell me if I was 'roadworthy' and meet minimum safety and enviromental standards. It does not do this.

There is no pass or fail. All results will show you have risk and the risk will always increase as you age. There is no pass mark. There is no acceptable score. Even if you are super fit and healthy you will still be told you could do more.

It is like an MOT in that it is not a service. The nurse/mechanic still recommends you have a service to improve your overall condition - and that is all.

The whole experience felt like a waste of time. Many of the tests can be done at home. I had to listen for 5 minutes to have an explanation of BMI calculation. I eventually interupted the nurse to reassure her I was not an idiot and could understand the formula very easily.

All the tests and results are patronising dibble. They add no value to the patient but allow NHS policy makers and politicians to shout out how wonderful the NHS is at preventative medicine,

Can anyone show me the results of Health Checks. The data on the claimed improvements to health cannot be found.

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Fountain of Med said on 16 October 2014

The truth is revealed, by Bekz and Monatomic amongst others. Thank you.

The techniques being used to improve the uptake of the Health Check service are searchable on the internet. Where I live, Medway Council area, the DH Behaviour Change Team trialled new ways to increase the uptake rates. Only 31 percent had actually attended a Health Check from an invitation. The trial changed the language in the letters - it told patients 'your appointment is due' rather than 'you are invited'. The changes are designed to take away any suggestion of patient choice or patient education and information. Essentially the default for patients is that they should attend, in the same way that default assumption is that patients want to share their data within the NHS and with others approved by NHS.

The DH letters also changed the tests provided - more significant tests such as fasting blood test makes more people attend (of course it does, it worries people who assume the test is more substantial and higher quality results will be given)

The DH Behaviour Change Team have trialled hassling people by text message before and after tests in Southwark. Northamptonshire tells people the cost of money spent of patients who did not attend (make patients feel guilty for making a choice! ) and Stoke pre-booked appointments.

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User912336 said on 15 October 2014

Bekz is right. Prevention is better than cure. However the health check does not show which patients will benefit from prevention action. Many patients will have to curtail their lifestyles for no benefit from reducing risk as they will not die from the diseases being targetted.

Some people will worry when they are told they have a higher risk than they assumed before a health check. This worry may have mental health issues. It may cause anxiety or lead to other unhealthy behaviour.

The nurses and health care assistants are unable to explain risk other than in very simple terms. By giving poorly explained risk advice the messages are often too strong for the actual risk.

Patients are never told of the inaccurancies recorded in the risk models or point out the risk is only an estimate and patients may simply be lucky and avoid problems.

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Bekz said on 15 October 2014

Monatomic - No the Health check won't stop disease. But it could prevent a stroke for a person who's BP is through the roof (and they had no idea) then treatment or further investigation can be commenced. It could prevent a heart attack if high cholesterol is picked up and treatment is started. It can pick up Diabetes in order for the patient to then be educated and hopefully gain good control of their disease. The silent conditions that patients may not know they are walking around with.

The patient has a choice to come or not. It's not mandatory but just recommended (we don't pay our patients to come, never heard of that before) and on personal experience I can confirm that many patients find it very beneficial but some people gain nothing from it as like others, they see it as just a 'nagging' tool and a waste of NHS money. Either way you choose to have one or you don't.

As you say though time will tell of it's effectiveness.

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Monatomic U said on 14 October 2014

The choice is NOT whether to have a health check or to have a disease, Bekz. The health check does not prevent disease - patients changing their lifestyles reduce the risk of a disease, and by reducing risk the number of people with a particular ailment reduces. By making healthy choices you lower your risk - but as pointed out by others this may be a small reduction in risk. Furthermore, many people understand how to live a healthy lifestyle and do not need the NHS resources to give them a nudge, but a few people may find being told they are overweight both a surprise and helpful.

It is all about individual choice and people have different approaches to life and health and wellbeing. I think that is what Ennis Bray may have been writing about. It seems the idea of health checks is a relatively new approach for the NHS and the world medicine in industrialised countries, and some of this may be motivated by profit. The NHS are spending a small fortune on Health Checks and it is likely to continue. Unlike other treatments which require very conclusive outcome improvements the Health Check is a bit more of a gamble and time will tell if it is effective and value for money.

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Bekz said on 14 October 2014

Sorry 'walk or speak' not sure how to edit my post!

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Bekz said on 14 October 2014

Ennis - It's not about making sure people live as long as possible at any cost. Have you seen someone after they've had a stroke? At worst obviously you die but some might find even worse than death no longer being able to talk or speak. This is the reality. Or someone who may have to deal with the complications of uncontrolled diabetes. Amputations is the reality of this. So if a quick blood test, a BP or raising awareness can help prevent this then give me a Health Check any day of the week.

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Ennis Bray said on 13 October 2014

Bekz makes a simple point. The Health Check is really about the NHS nagging patients to change their lifestyle choices. This seems to be motivated by wanting patients to live as long as possible without being a financial burden. It is not motivated by encouraging patients to live happy and enjoyable lives. Of course we all know we could choose healthier lifestyles, loose weight, never drink to much, never smoke, exercise every day etc. however most people realise this is not how they want to live their lives. They are more than happy to trade some risk with some instant benefits. People make decisions all the time - sometimes good and sometimes bad. They should be free to choose. The NHS needs to help patients when they need help and not put saving money above patient care. The NHS already stops people getting access to full health care based on their lifestyle. The Health Check could be used for this purpose. The NHS is now collecting all this data and will show the link and the patient will be an economic unit to decide whether they deserve health care.

The problem with the health check and the health care providers is the lack of basic human understanding that living for as long as possible, at any cost, is not a choice on which most people want to trade. Life is too short to worry about a little bit of drinking or eating or resting too long on the couch. There are never any guarantees to life and health.

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Bekz said on 09 October 2014

I carry out these NHS Health Checks at the surgery I work and in all honestly, on the whole it has been a positive experience. Yes we all know what we should and shouldn't be eating. We all know we should do more exercise. We should maybe drink a bit less and not smoke. But sometimes a little nudge in the right direction can help.

I often hear people say 'wow am I really that heavy?' or 'Is my blood pressure really that high?'. A lot of people generally don't have their BP checked, don't weigh themselves regularly, they have no idea what their cholesterol is or if they have a regular pulse beacuse most of us try and avoid going to the doctors if we can!

The Health check is to raise awareness of silent problems BEFORE silent issues turn into a Heart Attack, a Stroke or Diabetes. Prevention is better than cure, this is the basis of NHS Health Checks and yes we often have to tell people what they may not want to hear eg. your BMI is too high or your Cholesterol is too high but this is not to upset our patients (although obviously some health workers could be more tactful and words like 'chubby' are inappropriate and actually I would report if it was said to me because sadly I am a bit chubby!).

I'd recommend for everyone to take up the offer of a Health Check especially if you don't frequent the doctors often as it may well highlight a problem you didn't know was there or it may well give you a little piece of mind that you're on the right tracks health wise.

I have patients in their forties, fifties and sixties that we now know have high cholesterol, BP or borderline Diabetes, we can now annually monitor these patients and hopefully reduce their risk of future health problems which will hopefully ease pressure on the NHS in general.

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Mollie Stile said on 02 October 2014

Having attended my health check and researched the evidence and my results it is clear to me this is not a "sophisticated check of your heart health." It is, at best, a risk assessment based on growing data and evidence. However the evidence and data is flawed. Your results are based on very broad and general averages around risk and often not for a British population or a diverse genetic population. Actual individual risk varies widely. The results are poorly explained. Be prepared for some basic healthy living advice - the sort that is already well known - but do not expect sophistication.

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jan1948 said on 26 September 2014

I am not sure which health check I had but it was organised by my GP. Covered everything - blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, heart, urine etc and results were followed up. I suffer from white coat symptom and was given machine to test at home for blood pressureas well as follow up appointment. Friends at different surgeries have also had these tests. Perhaps we are just lucky living in West Suffolk. Jan1948

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Avancon said on 18 September 2014

My optician has written to me and invited me to a Health Check. They say this covers things like my Smoking Risk and General Health Check as they can do this in advance of other tests because the eyes can detect changes early for things like diabetes.

How does the NHS eye test compare to the NHS health check? Are they the same or should I have both checks. There seems to be many parts of the NHS offering similar checks - I can hardly access NHS service without someone asking me if I smoke or nagging that I am a little overweight.

I cannot see the need for yet another set of invites to other types of Health Checks.

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xtraterrestrial said on 04 September 2014

I am 77, registered with a GP service and when aged below 75 I never received any information about NHS Health Check. Lately I have been made aware of the AAA monitoring service.and will be making use of it a week's time. I am under the care of a renal consultant and have had a kidney transplant. What are my options now in relation to NHS services?

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DeBerryLead said on 04 September 2014

This health check programme will fail as patients realise how useless it really is and how it has been politically motivated and politically funded through councils. It passes health responsibility to patients and away from the NHS. The take up rates are already lower than expected and the progamme organisers are desperately 'upgrading' the methods use to ensure higher take up rates. £5 vouchers are now being offered in some areas to improve uptake.

There is a serious problem if patients have to be paid to attend these checks.

Invite letters will likely book appointments and expect you to turn up (perhaps out of fear in failing to attend). The NHS are becoming bullies.

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cnh4532 said on 03 September 2014

I just served for NHS Health Check services in my area and the response was "no results found"! Brilliant - don't move to Newcastle

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Park City said on 21 August 2014

caith makes a good point.

I asked my surgery for a health check. They offer a well man health check and also offer a well women health check. These are difference from the over 40 health check and cover more issues. They are provided by GP rather than organised by the local council as is the case with the over 40 health check

This is also the new patient heath check which is given to all newly registered patients, both men and women, and usually has no minimum age. All GPs seem to provide it to every new patient regardless of health history, date of last health check or any other checks.

It seems to me the easiest way to guarantee access to a health check is just to switch surgery whenever you want one. This gives you access to a more complete health check free of charge and also as many times as you like.

The NHS allows you to switch GPs as many times as you like.

I have now had three health checks in as many years. All without cost and without comment from the nurse.

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caith said on 20 August 2014

I've just picked up a newsletter from my surgery,it mentions health checks for men but they don't seem to do them for women??

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Graphia said on 30 July 2014

My health care professional asked to to partially undress to measure my waist fat with callipers. It was uncomfortable and humiliating. She then told me about changing my exercise programme to focus on aerobic exercise which sounded like any exercise I already do. She also commented that my family were all too heavy and perhaps we should do more as a family. So much for confidentiality in the NHS !

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Almost There said on 20 July 2014

Am I missing the point here? The actions listed of maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy and balanced diet, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol apply to everyone. What is the point of doing a load of risk tests if the requirements to reduce the risk are always the same? Why not just tell people they should maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy and balanced diet, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol ?
Is there anything else I am likely to be told if I undergo this health check?

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Ms SWAKO said on 06 July 2014

Never again. The tests started well and the nurse was friendly until my results were conveyed to me. I was told I was too fat and must lose weight. I was told how to do this and told I was to take the preferred choice offered. It was horrible and I felt terrible afterwards and had a little cry. There was nothing actually wrong with me. I am healthy but the results made me feel dreadful.

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Garry Smod said on 02 July 2014

I had a full NHS health check 15 months ago. My results were very good but I queried why I was not tested for Diabetes. I was told my risk was not high because I wasn't " a fatty or an oldie ".

I had some symptoms of diabetes, which I didn't know were symptoms at the time of the health check, and these got worse. I eventually visited my GP who did test for Diabetes and has now confirmed the diagnosis.

During the health check nobody asked if I had symptoms - they were more interested in my ethnicity and my first language than my health. Half the time was spent entering my data in to a mobile computer screen.

The NHS health check does not pick up on current symptoms. There is no common method of completing the heath check - luck plays a part on who is doing the tests and how many they do.

I definitely postponed seeing my GP as my health test results were all green happy faces (yes, that is how my results were presented) and I would have been referred if my results were red sad faces.

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Not in Kansas anymore said on 28 June 2014

The heath check is an NHS service which is actually free. Wow. That is so much better than the prescriptions required for health care, or the dental charges, or the eye tests. Why is the NHS spending money on healthy people when people who need health care have to pay out money?

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washington5 said on 28 June 2014

I had to try and delay my health check. I was planning to upgrade and increase my critical illness and life cover when I received my invite. As the Health Check could increase my premiums if it detected a higher risk of disease or if I was advised to moderate my lifestyle in some way this would have required me to declare it on my life insurance form which would have increased premiums. In the end the health check could not be postponed so I was advised to complete my insurance changes and then contact my GP surgery for a well person check which covered the same items and I could then take up the Heath Check Screen in 5 years.

I am disappointed that the NHS never reflects the disadvantages of screening only the advantages. It feels as if it does not trust patients to make decisions which are in their own interests. There is an inbuilt bias in the motivation of the NHS providers to increase uptakes which ignores how patients may or may not benefit. The focus should be on giving patients information which is complete and can be understood and not the numbers accepting. The acceptance rates just justify the cost which has little to do with patient benefits.

When will NHS choices highlight the anxiety and harms of screening healthy patients for potential disease or disease which have no impact if they were not detected?

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AZN Laydee said on 27 June 2014

As I cannot change the big risk factors of age and genetics (family history) how do I opt out of the repeated requests to attend? My GP does not control the invite list. Is there yet another NHS database being created for the Heath Check? Why not have a single database which asks the patient which screening services they wish to opt in or opt out?

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Guild of Lily said on 26 June 2014

I agree with T0ffeeGirl. Having attended my health check I was bemused by the advice and the overall lack of impact. I think most attendees will know what they should be doing to stay healthy and the health check seems like a poor excuse to give them a chat from a well intentioned but imprecise health assistant or nurse. The money spent on this latest gimmick would be better spent making GP appointments available when patients need to a medical adviser. Patients understand what they should do to stay healthy but make choices based on their life approach in the pursuit of happiness and unfortunately that means occasionally they do not take the healthy option every time no matter how much nagging the NHS does.

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T0ffeeGirl said on 25 June 2014

I think there are probably 2 circumstances in which these checks might produce genuine benefits. 1. if you are not already aware of what constitutes a healthy, balanced lifestyle and need to find that out and assess the extent to which you comply or 2. you are susceptible to pressure and persuasion. Personally, I think I have a reasonable grasp on what is healthy and what isn't - eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, don't smoke, drink in moderation, keep your mind active etc. My trouble is complying with some of that. I can tick a few boxes but the healthy weight and exercise needs more work. I know this. I have mirrors and scales. That's where 2. comes in. If the harsh words and not so subtle pressure of a medic is likely to jolt you in to changing your ways then go for it. For me however, I am my harshest critic - if my own scorn and displeasure at the increasing lumps and bumps appearing on my middle aged frame are not enough motivation to step away from the fridge and in to lycra then I can be pretty sure that the well infomred and well meant words of the local nurse won't be. The bottom line unfortunately is that we are all responsible to ourselves for this. There is no magic pill to health and wellbeing. As individuals we all need to make choices about how we want to live our lives and will ultimately have to face the consequences of those choices. However unpaletable it is, those extra pounds I carry are my own doing. I have chosen the path that's led me there through my chronic lack of will power and if that indulgence eventually leads to unpleasant health complications then I will only have myself to blame. For me, a health check isnt going to change that. Perhaps the money is better spent in the education of the young on such matters - raise awareness before their bad habits are too ingrained.

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Seranambia said on 22 June 2014

The advice is only personalised by adding your name at the start or end of the sentence. Well, Patient Name, you should do more exercise/stop smoking/drink less. How do you feel about that? Condescending and biased. Evidence linking risk to results is weak in many cases. The real risks of illness and disease are not covered. This seems designed to make patients self sufficient in treating themselves and passing blame on any illness to their lifestyle. I was reminded how much money the NHS would save by me making lifestyle choices. It did not feel like choice more of a nag and a moan to change with no real support other than a telephone number.

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listic fall gal said on 14 June 2014

My Health Check revealed my Heart Attack or Stroke risk in the next 10 years is 45.6%. My cholesterol ratio is normal at 4.4 times. My BMI is normal at 24.7 (Height 172cm Weight 73kg). My systolic blood pressure is normal at 120. I am a non-smoker. I have no diseases or illnesses. I was amazed at how high my risk is and have been worried ever since having the test having considered myself to have been fit and healthy all my life.

The risk comes from all the factors I cannot change. My age. My ethnicity. It seems that age will be a significant factor and far more important than the lifestyle questions. Is there any point telling a 74 year old the risk of a Heart Attack if the risk is always going to be so high? All the Health Check has done for me is made me worry and to such an extent that I now cannot sleep very well. I may end up going to my GP for some help and ask for sleeping tablets.

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Larchmont said on 11 June 2014

No sure this is worth the money.

I was told my risks range from 'low' to 'high' for the different results. I was told I will be referred and may be offered tablets for the rest of my life. The tablets may help to reduce my risk from high to medium. The tablets may also have side effects. If I take the tablets I could still develop the disease. If I do not take the tablets I am still unlikely to develop the disease. My risk was 11% of developing the disease - so 89% of not developing it.

I would like to see the results expressed as chances of not incurring disease over the next ten years. This would be more realistic for most people and more reassuring.

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Confused_of_Loughborough said on 07 June 2014

Am I eligible? I was in Nottingham and picked up a Health Check leaflet. A copy can be found here http://www.nottinghamcity.nhs.uk/images/stories/docs/GP_Portal/Healthcheck_leaflet.pdf
The leaflet states I may be eligible for a Health Check as long as I am registered with a GP in Nottingham. I live in Leicestershire where I am also registered with a local GP. Do I need to re-register to a Nottinghamshire GP to access a Health Check? If so, do I travel to Nottinghamshire for the check or can I still have it arranged more locally? If the Health Check is so important why is it not available in the same way across England? Why do Welsh and Scots NHS choose not to provide this Health Check?

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Mirinaba said on 06 June 2014

My local GP surgery has been really keen to write and invite patients for the health check. The local authority increased the price they were paid to £30 per check. My complete check took 20 minutes so that is good for the GP practice, good for my health, and ensures the council moves forward on their Health strategy. It is a shame that the evidence of benefits for health checks appears to be overstated according to non-NHS authors and clinicians. This is probably why the Health Check is unique to England.

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Aero Smurfette said on 05 June 2014

Thanks for the Health Check. I am only at moderate risk of a couple of potential issues later in life. I also know after a conversation with a nurse that I am not prepared to change my happy lifestyle choices and my risk will therefore not change. #WasteofMoney

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Miss Construct said on 02 June 2014

An awful experience. During the lifestyle interrogation session the nurse worked out my alcohol units. I mentioned I had two or three standard glasses of wine one evening over the weekend. She calculated the units and compared this to the safe level of drinking. This was 175ml x 11% x three. 5.8 units in total which was classed as excessive and not within the safe levels. She said I had to cut down and should restrict my intake to no more than two glasses of wine making sure this was only 2 or 3 days a week. It is all a load of rubbish.Everything else was fine, as I expected. Not really sure why I bothered in the first place. Results are sent to the GP who will then make then available to the care.data HSCIC database for sale to researchers and other third parties. I wonder when the drinks companies will access the data on the basis of improving health by analysing drinking habits?

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Chase Nature said on 30 May 2014

I was able to see a nurse at my GP surgery for my Health Check just by phoning through and requesting an appointment. The tests are simple enough but the results are a little disappointing and simply signpost ways to live heathier. It was all really obvious and did not have a feeling of a health check. To be honest, most of the tests can bve done at home with one or two home testing kits. Expect to be told to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, move more etc. My BMI was below 25 but the nurse still insisted on measureing my waist and told me I still could do with losing more weight as my waist was near the upper level of what 'they' recommend. I will not be counting down for a return trip in 5 years. If you do not expect much you will not be disappointed.

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Pat Villars said on 23 May 2014

I was only given two scores for my Cholesterol - LDL Cholesterol and Total Cholesterol. My sister had a check at a different centre and was informed of her Cholesterol Ratio Score. Her Ratio was over 4 and she was told this could indicate problems with circulation and heart. My two scores were similar to hers but I was never given my Cholesterol ratio. It seems amateurish for the NHS to provide different tests at different places which then provide different results for patients. It is not scientific. Why is the Health Check not standardised for everyone? Should I see my GP to obtain my ratio score as I fear I will also have a high risk ratio.

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SamanShad said on 23 May 2014

I had my 20 minutes check. The tests took about three minutes and the chat about cutting down on alcohol and loosing a few pounds went on for about 15 minutes. It seemed the nurse was trying every trick in the book to put fear and worry in my choice to have a drink when I felt like it or eating what I chose. The NHS should help people when they need it and not dictate or bully them in to making choices set out by the NHS or the Government of the day. There were no real facts to the risks, and those that were mentioned were limited to propaganda and very selective.

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TheColonel said on 14 May 2014

I had my check a little while ago at my GP practice. It was actually the nurse that did the check and it was a surprisingly positive experience. My risk wan't too bad but apparently my colesterol could be a bit better, this was a bit of a surprise because I think of myself as being quite healthy. I was given a leaflet telling me of some optionsto improve my cholesterol and the nurse suggested ways to keep active as I get older. I suppose it's down to the person doing the test but mine wasfine and I've recommended it to several friends.

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Nod Six said on 13 May 2014

I had my Health Check today. I was told I was a little bit chubby and need to lose a little bit of weight. Being called 'chubby' is not what I consider personalised advice - it is just rude.

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Phyllost said on 06 May 2014

I live in Cheshire and despite being 52 I have never received an inviation to attend an NHS Health Check. I am not on a disease register. I was puzzled after reading this page so I looked up my local data for Cheshire West and Chester to see that only 5% of the total elegible population have been offered a Health Check in 2013 and Quarter 1 2014. Although 3 in 4 people who were offered the check took up the offer it is worrying that so few are ever offered. The postcode lottery with NHS care continues. If you live on London Borough of Croydon only 82 people out of 97,000 were offered a health check since 2013 (That's 0.1% of the population). Data is now available at http://www.healthcheck.nhs.uk

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Zherbe said on 05 May 2014

Why is this article so badly written. "If you want to avoid being a statistic, it's worth making an appointment for an NHS Health Check as soon as you get your invitation" implies that you can avoid being statistic. Of course, you are always a statistic.
"Sophisticated checks" not really. Height, Weight, Chlosterol, Blood Pressure and a few Yes/No answers on lifestyle.
Let's have some honesty. The NHS Health Check is now provided and commissioned by Local Authorities. They can engage third party, commercial organisations, who are paid for the service. They collect patient data and forward it to GP which is them available via HSCIC to be sold to commercial companies under 'strict' controls. The roll out has been very poor, most parts of the country have achieved single figure attendance of elegible populations. You will receive very simple lifestyle advice to reduce risk. No risk is eliminated. The Health Checks are now being aggresively promoted "You are now due" rather then "You are invited". Commissioners pay providers for attendance, not results or outcomes of the health assessment.

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Leaf_in_the_wind said on 01 May 2014

This is all very good, but the key thing is communicating the results to the patient so they can understand what they need to do and then get their buy in. Then really they should be checked up on regularly and offered support if necessary. My worry is that the poor patient gets bombed with loads of info and walks out not really getting it.

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