Foreword – Viv Bennett, director of nursing, PHE
Nursing teams and allied health professionals (AHP) teams up and down the country are providing tremendous leadership on the NHS Health Check programme. They play an important role at all stages, including strategic oversight, commissioning and delivery. This is why I am delighted to have been invited to write this guest foreword for the programme’s e-bulletin.
Nurses and AHPs are clearly at the heart of transforming our health and care system to become one that is not just centred on disease management but committed to tackling disease prevention. Nurses and AHPs are embracing ‘health promoting practice’ including addressing behavioural and physiological risk factors, which are driving an epidemic of non-communicable disease. Our agency priorities focus on several of these, such as smoking, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption. The NHS Health Check programme provides us with an opportunity to engage 15 million people to take stock of their own risk and take positive changes to reduce and/or manage that risk. This is why we are committed to supporting effective implementation of this world-leading prevention programme.
Key to our success in addressing these risk factors will be the need to support people to make positive changes to their lifestyles. Nurses and AHPs are vital for the introduction and effective use of behavioural-change science and we must ensure we give the same attention and respect to our knowledge and competency in behavioural science as we do to clinical aspects to our everyday practice. This is why PHE has been working with several partners, such as Skills for Health, Health Education England, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal Society of Public Health, to introduce a competency framework and supporting tools to help those delivering the NHS Health Check.
The NHS Health Check competence framework was published last year and the learner and assessor workbooks have just been published to accompany the framework. The learner workbook includes units with learning outcomes to help health professionals develop their skills to deliver the programme effectively. The Royal Society of Public Health is holding regional sessions over the coming months to help health professionals use the workbooks. Elaine Vincent is a health improvement facilitator from Suffolk who has been trialling the workbooks and says they are already proving useful. She trains people to deliver the NHS Health Check and says the workbooks provide a structure to the training programme and allow her to assess each person against the criteria. This means she can be confident that each person she is training is meeting the standards as set out in the competency framework.
To help provide information and support to nurses and AHPs, we are also developing new content on the NHS Health Check programme on our Framework for personalised care and population health nurses, midwives, health visitors and allied health professionals. We will let you know as soon as this is available.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to extend the focus from treatment to prevention and I would like to end by thanking those of you who are leading this work. Nurses and AHPs should be proud of their achievements and the important roles they are playing in transforming our health and care system.