Friday, 10 May 2013

The public’s health: pitfalls and possibilities

And so it begins...
Welcome to Health Diagnostics’ new blog. Having developed a cutting edge cardiovascular health screening solution, it seemed time to take to the online message boards to tell people about it!
That’s precisely what we’ll be doing here. Expect to read about the latest developments within population health screening, with particular attention being paid to England’s NHS Health Check programme.
The challenges currently facing primary care will prove demanding, whilst the changes afoot are equally as diverse. With the UK economy set to have to accommodate for an extra 11 million obese adults by 2030, a central question public health is asking itself is, ‘how can we meaningfully intervene now and prevent this predicted burden from overwhelming the NHS?’
The diabetes epidemic associated with this dangerous hike in obesity levels has been well documented, with charities such as Diabetes UK doing valuable research on the likely economic and social impacts. The simple fact has been stated – we’re ‘sleeping walking into a crisis’. The question now arising is ‘are we’re really doing enough to shake ourselves into action?’
The anticipated response needs to be as profound as the potential problem. For the UK to avoid a situation whereby the average person leads an inactive and inhibited life due to largely preventable ill-health, the measures that Public Health England take now will have a drastic effect on the shape of the coming years.
Fortunately PHE appear to be rising to the challenge. The recently published Our Priorities 2013/14 document explicitly states the organisation's intent towards:

'Helping people to live longer and more healthy lives by reducing preventable deaths and the burden of ill health associated with smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, poor diet, poor mental health, insufficient exercise, and alcohol'

And a primary way in which they’re going to support people to live healthier lives is: 

'By implementing NHS Health Checks to 15 million eligible people. We will support the roll-out of the Health Check programme by local authorities, assuring full implementation across the country'

The proof will lie in the pudding – and specifically whether more people pick the healthy option more of the time – however the intent from the newly endowed health authorities is loud and clear.
There will be trying tests associated with carrying out these aims well and ensuring the programme is both targeted with measured outcomes. However with experience in health screening that long pre-dates the inception of the NHS Health Check programme in 2009, Health Diagnostics are well placed to analyse and coordinate the solutions.
As such, some of the topics you’ll see appearing on this blog over the coming weeks will involve:
-         Plans for the NHS Health Check Leadership Forum
-         Developments in behavioural science and how they’re being integrated into provider training
-         Details on getting patient data back into all GP clinical systems electronically
Comment is encouraged on this blog, and please do also share your views with us on Twitter.
Details on the panel and programme for the NHS Health Check Leadership Forum, which is taking place at this year’s Commissioning Show, will follow next week.
Thanks for reading.


  1. The PHE's initiative to conduct 15 million checks to the eligible populace is laudable; it will be most intriguing to see how the program progesses in the context of public sector re-structuring and cutbacks.

  2. Well said, Bill. It has been announced that the funding is there and has been ring-fenced. It all depends however on how well protected the budgets are. As was noted by Dr Peter Brambleby (ex-Director of Public Health for Croydon) in the Picture of Health reports, 'a ring-fence is synonymous with a cage or silo' - ie, that these budgets may be in danger of being raided if they're not protected diligently by the people in charge of them. Big responsibilty for those with the purse strings then...

  3. Jerome Doherty18 May 2013 at 18:03

    15 million health checks alone won't stop this obesity epidemic! The government needs to take a firm stance against the forces that are shaping our diet. Take away food outlets line our streets and yet by and large they're selling ill health and processed rubbish!

  4. Legislation ruling against methods of cooking that result in dangerous levels of saturated fat could be an extremely bold step in this direction. Would that be too heavy handed?

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