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Special edition - National Conference 2014

Foreword by Professor Kevin Fenton

Prof Kevin FentonI’d like to start this e-bulletin by thanking everybody who made last week’s NHS Health Check 2014 conference ‘Share, listen, act’ a resounding success. I think we all felt a palpable sense of ambition and commitment to making the NHS Health Check live up to its full potential.

One thing that struck me was the sheer breadth of the topics we discussed. From data flows to evaluation, from programme standards to marketing, I’m sure there was something for everyone. The presentations are all available on the NHS Health Check website if you weren’t able to come in person. They are a treasure trove of experience and advice as they come from the perspectives of those on the frontline of delivering the programme: local authorities, NHS Health Check teams, public health consultants, GPs and wider providers. The topics they covered included how different councils plan their procurement and how local teams are developing new ways to engage with users, such as the discount card backed by businesses. We heard the latest about how the programme is being evaluated nationally and locally, and PHE’s intention to publish a research and evaluation strategy for the programme. And of course, there was lots of commentary and advice on issues at the forefront of virtually everyone’s mind: data flows, programme standards, uptake and outcomes.

I hope that what you heard at the conference – and what you can read about on the website – gives you a sense of the huge progress that’s been made against our 10 Point Action Plan. On the website you’ll find the information governance and data flow pack to guide you on how to use data in ways that comply with existing legislation and guidance. We’ve also published the NHS Health Check programme standards,to support an offer that is consistently of the highest quality across the country. Lastly, we’ve shared research into how we think we can improve uptake by making the offer as appealing as we can – for example, tweaking an invitation letter.

Of course, the real thrill of a conference like this is to see so many people come together and share their ideas and approaches, whether it’s through a Powerpoint slide or over coffee. If we’re going to succeed in getting that step-change in uptake, delivery and outcomes of the NHS Health Check, it’ll be through a sense of shared responsibility for making it happen.

That’s not straightforward with a programme like this, which relies on stakeholders, from GPs to local authorities, forging a shared vision of what NHS Health Check can do – as the Centre for Public Scrutiny’s report (launched at the conference) highlighted. But for me, the real take-away from the conference was that, together, we have generated a real ‘can-do’ spirit around NHS Health Check. That’s the most precious resource of all.