The NHS is looking to extend its ‘controversial’ health care checks so that they can now be provided in shops and public events, in an attempt to increase the number of people accessing such services. NHS health chiefs estimate that 9000 heart attacks and 14,000 strokes could be prevented in the next 3 years from such a push.
Dr Matt Kearney, of NHS England, said: ‘We know that much more can be done in communities across the country to prevent thousands of needless deaths each year due to strokes and heart attacks.’
Currently, the checks are provided to people between 40-74 to identify the risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and strokes in patients. But the programme has proved controversial, with some suggesting that it does more harm than good.
In 2013, Clare Gerada, of the Royal College of GPs, argued that the expensive NHS programme was ‘devaluing medicine’ and was leading to people being unnecessarily worried about their health. She also suggested that it was using up time that GPs could have been spending on treating people who are sick.
Public Health England maintains that the programme is effective in identifying illnesses and forms part of the NHS’ preventative care drive. While there is no concrete evidence that such checks save lives, the NHS shows that for every 27 people tested, one person is diagnosed with high blood pressure. This number rises to 265 people for every one when diagnosing kidney disease.
The plans to provide such checks at shops and public sporting events could mean significantly more people receiving such services, while GPs will no longer be burdened with carrying them out, freeing up their time for sick patients.