Illnesses detected during the NHS’s “mid-life MOT” could be “equally well detected” without the check-up, researchers have suggested.
In 2009 health officials launched the NHS Health Check which aims to assess and treat patients aged 40 to 74 for their risk of developing heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
But a new study has cast doubt on the test after researchers found that the checks may not be different from standard care at increasing the reported numbers of patients with certain conditions.
Experts examined changes in the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease and atrial fibrillation among patients registered with GP practices that did and did not offer the service.
They looked at 38 surgeries in Warwickshire that offered the NHS Health Check and 41 in the area that just provided standard care, but not the specific check, over a three-year period from 2010 to 2013.
The reported prevalence of these ailments did not differ from practices providing the checks and those that provided usual care, the authors said.
“A further implication was that any cases detected as a result of a Health Check may be equally well detected through usual care”
Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concluded: “Throughout the duration of the study 1,142 previously undiagnosed conditions were detected through a total of 16,669 NHS Health Checks.
“Despite this, no significant differences were shown in the change to the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease and atrial fibrillation in practices providing NHS Health Checks compared with control practices that were providing usual care over the same period.
“The implication of this result is that provision of NHS Health Checks in GP practices may not be different from usual care at increasing the reported prevalence of the five conditions examined.
“A further implication was that any cases detected as a result of a Health Check may be equally well detected through usual care.”