Vital health check invites unsent to thousands in Dorset

Vital health check invites unsent to thousands in Dorset

Published by George Sharpe at 1:23pm 11th September 2019. (Updated at 5:37pm 17th September 2019)

Over 50,000 people in Dorset haven't been invited for health checks offered to adults aged 40-74.

The former Dorset County Council should have invited adults in that age bracket should be invited for an NHS health check-up every five years.

It's designed to spot risks and early symptoms of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.

109,420 people in Dorset were eligible for the check in the run up to June 2019, according to Public Health England figures. 

But, the figures also show that only 54% (58,620) of those were sent an invite by the council during that period.

A Dorset Council Spokesperson said:

"We are aware that the uptake of NHS Health Checks has been low in parts of Dorset. In response to this, we've taken measures to introduce a different delivery model from April 2019 which enables eligible people to choose to have their NHS Health Check from a number of providers (pharmacies and GP practices) across Dorset. 

"We're also implementing targeted campaigns in certain areas where uptake is particularly low to encourage more people to attend their NHS Health Check."

Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said the figures were "extremely concerning".

“Local authorities have a legal duty to offer a health check to everyone who is eligible, but this clearly isn’t happening," she said.

"If left undiagnosed, diabetes can lead to sight loss, amputations, stroke and kidney failure.

"Government urgently needs to invest more money in the depleted public health grant to allow local authorities to reach more people at risk.”

Not everybody is eligible for a health check – those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions or known risk factors won't be invited as they are already receiving treatment.

Of those who were invited during the last five years in Dorset, only 49% attended an appointment.

Councils are legally required to try to improve the uptake rate each year.

Only 49% of people offered a check went along to an appointment in Dorset
Only 49% of people offered a check went along to an appointment in Dorset

In Dorset, the take-up rate rose last year. Of the people invited for a test between April and June, 87.1% took up the offer, compared to 0% the previous year. The rate was at its highest in 2015-16, when it was 55.4%.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said councils wanted to do more to improve uptake, particularly among high risk groups, but warned more money was needed.

He said:

"Every pound invested by government in council-run services can relieve pressure on other essential services like the NHS and save much more money further down the line."

Jamie Waterall, national lead for the NHS Health Check at Public Health England, said:

"The number of people attending an NHS Health Check during the first quarter of this year is up 10% on the same period last year – the highest since 2015-16.

"The check is quick and easy, providing a world-leading prevention programme, and years of ill health and thousands of lives may have been saved."