Foreword by Professor Kevin Fenton
Many of you will have seen our recently published document, Public Health England Our Priorities for 2013/14, which identifies support for the successful implementation and scale-up of the NHS Health Check programme by local authorities as a high priority action in support of our goal to reduce preventable deaths. This reinforces both the importance of the programme as well as the roles that you all play in commissioning, implementing, evaluating and championing this key public health activity. As Public Health England (PHE) takes on the oversight of national implementation, we are conscious that local leadership and effective local partnerships are key to the programme's success. As I visit NHS Health Check teams across the country, it is clear that local authorities are enthusiastic and well equipped to achieve this ambition, and ready to work through implementation challenges and concerns. Our role in PHE will be to support effective implementation and monitoring, facilitate the sharing of best practices, support evaluation and research, and ensure that new strategic developments of the programme are based on the best evidence.
Another way in which PHE will support local implementation is by clearly defining and supporting the programme's governance, ensuring robust leadership oversight, engagement and challenge by multidisciplinary colleagues. Having listened to your views, I am pleased to confirm at we will be establishing new governance and coordination groups to advise and guide the PHE NHS Health Checks team and support local implementation. These include a new Expert Clinical and Scientific Advisory Panel, with technical subgroups focusing on information governance and data, communication and marketing, and regional, centre and local implementer groups. We will of course be involving many of you in the establishment of these new groups and will be looking for local representatives in the coming weeks. Good governance at all levels will be critical for our continued success. It will provide opportunities for engagement of a broader range of colleagues, especially those implementing the programme, in all aspects of our work.
Continuing on the theme of implementation, I was very encouraged to see the the 2012/2013 NHS Outcomes Framework data which demonstrated that a significant number of areas achieved the ambition to invite 20% of their eligible population and reach a minimum of 50% uptake. Given that this was only our fourth year of implementation and the first year of full roll-out, I believe we can be proud of the 2.57 million offers made and 1.26 million NHS Health Check appointments received, especially during a time of so much transformation across the health system. However, now is the time to challenge ourselves to push further and faster. We must continue to increase national coverage so that all areas are offering access to this mandated programme. We must also strive to further increase levels of uptake and referral to appropriate risk management services, particularly in those communities at greatest risk. Increasing coverage, uptake and onward referral for the NHS Health Check programme is a priority for local governments, PHE, and NHS England as we tackle the problems of premature mortality and health inequalities. Now is the opportunity for us to take stock of what we have achieved, share what we have learned, and apply what we know works best. We look forward to sharing more encouraging results in the months and years ahead. Thank you for all you do and keep up the great work!