Foreword – Carole Wood, Director of Public Health, Gateshead Council
The NHS Health Check programme is well established in Gateshead and there’s a commitment across all agencies involved to make it work as it is seen as a good opportunity to reduce health inequalities in the region.
Men and women in Gateshead respectively live 1.8 and 1.6 years less than the national average. People living in different parts of Gateshead have further differences in life expectancy with around 9 years difference between the most affluent and most deprived communities. We estimate there are approximately 450 preventable deaths every year in Gateshead from cardiovascular disease (28%), cancer (40%), liver disease (9%) and respiratory disease (7%).
One of our key aims is to ensure the programme targets those most at risk of these diseases so health inequalities are not widened. The programme is delivered in a variety of ways with the majority of NHS Health Checks delivered by GP surgeries. However, we also use pharmacies, Gateshead council’s occupational health and health trainers to provide checks. We target high-risks groups through our community incentive programme, which rewards community and voluntary organisations for providing NHS Health Checks in the local community.
Over the last few years, there has been a consistent approach to driving up the number of NHS Health Checks. In 2013-14, 9 low-performing practices were identified to take part in the GP quality premium. This is intended to reward CCGs for improvements in the quality of the services they commission and for improvements in health outcomes and reducing inequalities. This initiative is helping to increase the number of NHS Health Checks carried out.
Data shows Gateshead is the top performing area for 2013-14 across the 12 local authorities in the North East and tenth out of 152 local authorities. The programme appears to be finding people at high-risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent analysis found that for every ten checks carried out two new high-risk individuals were identified.
Our wellness programme aims to ensure the results of the NHS Health Check are followed up so people receive appropriate medical intervention and are helped to understand what lifestyle choices they can make to reduce their risk of developing serious health problems.
New national standards and ambitious targets for the next two years mean there is much work to be done. However, delivering the programme with CCG commitment shows what can be achieved and the potential contribution NHS Health Check can make to reducing premature mortality.