Editorials

Government’s plans for universal health checks for people aged 40-75

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4788 (Published 30 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4788
  1. Felicity Goodyear-Smith, academic head
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, PB 92 019 Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  1. f.goodyear-smith{at}auckland.ac.nz

No certainty that they’ll do more good than harm

The UK government recently prioritised plans for all adults aged 40-75 (about 15 million people) to receive regular, free health checks. Originally introduced in 2009, primary care trusts were required to screen for “diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke risk,” regardless of patients’ risk profiles.1 Since April 2013, local authorities have overall responsibility for provision of these checks, which have been extended to include assessment of alcohol consumption and dementia and are specifically for people at low risk. People with existing disease, already taking statins, or with at least a 20% risk of cardiovascular disease are excluded.2 However, implementation (measured by the proportion of eligible patients invited to participate) has been patchy, and about half of people accept the invitation, hence the current push to scale up the programme and increase its coverage.3

Increased life expectancy has come with a global rise in the number of years people now live with illness, accompanied by personal, social, and health costs.4 The health check programme aims to reduce …

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