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GP mythbuster 60: NHS health checks

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Prevention is a core part of the work of general practice.

Consultations provide opportunities for primary prevention and health promotion, advising and supporting people to live healthier lives and reduce their risk of ill health. Secondary prevention is equally important - reducing the risk of illness through prompt diagnosis and management of conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

NHS health checks

The NHS health check programme aims to keep people well for longer by helping to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 who does not have a pre-existing condition or certain risk factors is invited once every five years for an NHS health check. A healthcare professional will carry out tests to assess levels of risk, and may provide personalised advice on how to lower these risks.

  • Behavioural risks (such as being overweight, smoking and alcohol intake). People should receive personalised advice and be signposted to more intensive support where appropriate.
  • Physiological risks (such as newly detected high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease). Practices should carry out follow up investigations and appropriately manage people’s conditions.

Local authorities commission NHS health checks. Many are provided by GP practices, but some are conducted by external providers such as community pharmacists.

What do we expect GP practices to be doing?

We look at how well people are supported to live healthier lives when inspecting effective care under key line of enquiry (KLOE) E5.

KLOE 5.2 covers how people are involved in regularly monitoring their health, including appropriate and necessary health assessments and checks. We consider how the practice approaches NHS health checks:

  • Is there a system for appropriate call and recall?
  • How do they work with commissioners to identify people eligible for NHS health checks where they are completed by external providers?
  • Is there appropriate follow up after a person has had an NHS health check assessment, particularly where abnormalities or risk factors are identified:
    • Do they get personalised advice and signposted to support to help change their behaviour? (KLOE E5.3: Are they empowered and supported to manage their health, care and wellbeing.)
    • Is there appropriate investigation and management where abnormalities or risk factors are identified, for example high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
    • Are changes to care or treatment discussed and followed up between healthcare professionals, people and their carers (KLOE E5.4)?
    • When external providers carry out NHS health checks is there an effective system to transfer information to health records and ensure appropriate follow-up?

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Last updated:
28 April 2021