HEALTH chiefs say a pro-active approach to health is paying dividends but want more people to take them up on their offer of free regular health checks.
More than 40,000 Wiganers have already had a 30-minute health check which aims to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. The programme systematically targets the top seven causes of preventable mortality: high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.
The programme targets men and women aged 40-74 (a third of the population) who have not been diagnosed with an existing vascular disease or being treated for certain risk factors and offers an NHS Health Check every five years. It is part of the mandated public health functions of local authorities.
Dr Kate Ardern, director of Public Health for Wigan Council, said “The borough’s large-scale NHS health check programme is a vital part of Wigan Council’s approach to health and well-being. It has resulted in approximately 20 per cent of those attending being identified earlier with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. All 40,349 people who have attended for the 30-minute Health Check have received lifestyle advice and, when appropriate, been referred to local lifestyle programmes.”
Wigan borough has a successful delivery programme of free health checks and since its commencement with one GP in October 2007 the programme has been rolled out to all GPs across the borough, to the end of March 2013 40,349 Find and Treat Health Checks have been delivered.
NHS Health Checks are available in GP practices; the local FeelWell Bus and the Greater Manchester Health Bus also visit supermarkets and shopping centres around the borough to deliver free NHS Health Checks.
Before local authorities took over responsibility from Primary Care Trusts for commissioning the checks in April, there was considerable variation in how widely they were offered.
The PHE said the free health checks programme could prevent 1,600 heart attacks and 4,000 cases of diabetes a year in the country.