NHS Health Check to get a personal touch
Matt Hancock, Sectary of State for Health and Social Care, has launched an evidence-based review into the NHS Health Check to assess the feasibility of adopting a more personalised, preventative approach, depending on individual characteristics.
NHS Health Checks are currently offered to 14 million people aged between 40-74. However, through the use of new technology and data, the Government is looking to develop tailored programmes to prevent diseases that specific individuals may be at risk of developing. Using genetic profiling, age data and geographical information, there is potential to create more sophisticated individual profiles for use in health assessments. The review seeks to establish exactly how effective this approach could be.
NHS Health Checks are intended to spot the signs of major conditions that cause early death, including stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It is an important part of the public health services commissioned by local authorities across the country.
Mr Hancock labelled the use of personalised preventative medicine as "mission-critical" to the future of the health service.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the announcement. However, she warned that "while the focus on only offering health checks to certain groups at risk of certain conditions is a move in the right direction - we need to ensure the methods used to determine who should be invited for one are properly thought through and based on rigorous evidence."
There are also concerns about the additional pressure this puts on GPs when patients want to discuss their genetic results. It cannot be understated the impact that "suddenly knowing what health conditions you may be more susceptible to," will have on patients, said Ms Stokes-Lampard. For this reason, the College is urging 'rigorous' evaluation of changes to the Health Check to ensure their safety and accuracy.
Over the last five years, the NHS Health Check programme commissioned by local government has identified over 700,000 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and saves an estimated 500 lives each year. Over this period, more than 14 million people, 90 per cent of the eligible population, have been offered an NHS Health Check and almost seven million have taken up the offer.
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