Saturday 12 April 2014

Share, listen, act: Update on the NHS Health Checks in East London ~ Part 2

Part 2:

Following on from Part 1 of the 'Share, listen act' series where we had the initial reaction to last month's NHS Health Check conference, this post will focus on the achievements of the NHS Health Checks in ethnically-diverse East London.

Dr John Robsona GP working in East London who co-authored the QRisk algorithm with Julia Hippisley-Cox, was responsible for delivering the latest findings in relation to coverage and uptake of NHS Health Checks in the area. 

For the purposes of the project, three Local Authorities comprised ‘East London'. These are listed below, as well as ranked out of the UK's 150 Local Authorities in terms of overall premature mortality:

- Newham (ranked #110)
- City & Hackney (ranked #132)
- Tower Hamlets (ranked #139)

Despite all featuring in the bottom third of UK LAs for premature deaths, the percentage uptake of the scheme in 2011/12 was 74%. This indicates that 21,194 people from those 3 areas had an NHS Health Check; a figure above the current national average of 50% and well above the upper target of 66% as set by Professor Kevin Fenton. Newham even managed 81% uptake.

In regards to the equity of the uptake of the health checks by age, ethnic group and deprivation, Dr Robson echoed much of what Health Diagnostics have seen in collating and analysing NHS Health Check data:

Main findings

1. Older people (>60 years) were more likely to attend a health check (perhaps because they are more likely to be high risk, are stratified as such and are therefore offered a health check).

2. There was no particular difference of uptake based upon quintile, although this is misleading in the three East London areas that the research covered, as the areas were almost exclusively in the 4th and 5th quintile. In 2011/12, 11% of health check attendees had a Townsend Quintile score of 4, whilst 88% had a Townsend Quintile score of 5.

3. There was a significant uptake of the health checks amongst South Asian and black African/Caribbean populations. In 2011/12, 41% of the Health Check attendees were from a South Asian or black African/Caribbean ethnicity band, compared to 28% of non-attendees. 


Of those attending an NHS Health Check, 31% had a CVD risk score of at least 10%. In real terms this equated to 15,876 people identified as medium/high CVD risk. These figures would suggest a significant number of people could benefit enormously from identifying risk increasing behaviours earlier in life. For the Local Authorities concerned, responding with targeted educational and health awareness campaigns may prove crucial.

Following on from the risk identification of the health check, of those classified as at high CVD risk overall (200,000 people out of 2 million attendees), around a third (60,000) were prescribed a statin. This would result in an overall decline of instances of CVD by 25%, accounting for a reduction of CVD events by 1500 cases in 5 years. 

The findings from this study point to the significant, positive effect that the NHS Health Check programme can have in lowering CVD risk. In the face of such encouraging evidence, it is understandable that the debate on the utility of the health check programme has subsided in recent months.

Findings conveyed by Health Diagnostics’ Systems and Data Manager, Michael Storry.