Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Changes to NHS health checks must be evidence based and beneficial, say GPs

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 16 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5201

Rapid Response:

Re: Changes to NHS health checks must be evidence based and beneficial, say GPs

It is hard to guess what Matt Hancock means by a 'one size fits all approach of the past'. What is implied is an underlying libertarian ideology that's against universal, evidence based approaches like a sugar-tax, banning soft drinks in schools, etc. and in favour of market laissez-faire based on a mistaken assumption that a stressed, unemployed, frightened single mum in the East End of Sheffield has the same freedom to choose a healthy lifestyle as a middle-aged man in West London with a PA and a loving wife with a nanny. It is also misleading to talk about 'targeted interventions' when so many 'effective interventions' like 'Sure Start' have been cut.

Last week we found out that there had been 27% cuts to drug treatment services in the last 3 years with a 17% rise in deaths. One of the strongest risk factors for early disability and death is poverty - which we could do well to screen for. In Glasgow, financial advisers based in the most deprived surgeries helped patients access additional £850 thousand pounds of benefits. This is a low-tech, evidenced-based intervention that targets vulnerable patients which I would love to have in my practice. Unfortunately it is the antithesis of the high-tech, unevidenced, untargeted interventions that Hancock is so keen on.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 August 2019
Jonathon Tomlinson
The Lawson Practice, London