Tens of thousands missing out on Norfolk County Council health checks, figures claim
Thousands of people in West Norfolk may be missing out on vital health checks that can spot early signs of several life-threatening conditions.
A leading health charity has said estimates suggesting that as many as one in five people in the county are not being invited to undergo the assessments are very worrying
But county health officials have today insisted that the system is meeting its targets.
Adults aged between 40 and 74 in England should be invited for an NHS health check-up by their local authority every five years.
The check is designed to spot risk factors and early symptoms of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.
Public Health England estimates that there are 263,730 people in Norfolk who were eligible for the check in the five years to June 2019.
However, their figures show just 79 per cent of them were sent an invite by the council during that time – meaning 56,600 people missed out.
But the figures also suggest take-up of the checks has risen slightly with 48.2 per cent of those invited during the three months to June, compared to 48 per cent in the same period last year.
That is still well below the peak take-up of 53.6 per cent recorded in 2014-15.
Across England as a whole, nearly four million other people are also thought to have missed out on the checks.
And Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said the figures were “extremely concerning”.
She said: “Local authorities have a legal duty to offer a health check to everyone who is eligible, but this clearly isn’t happening.
“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.”
But Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “In the current system health check invitations to eligible people are sent out directly from their GP surgery.
“We regularlymonitor our health check performance and it is on target.
“There is due to be a national review of Health Checks ,which we welcome, that will look at ways to make the checks more personalised,and more targeted.”
People with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions or known risk factors won’t be invited as they are already receiving treatment.