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NHS Health Check no more effective than 'standard care'

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.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Kadiyali Srivatsa

    I thank the team for organising and publishing this article because I am this study proves my criticism about FREE HELTH CAMPS or Free MOT offered for people who take health insurance.

    In India, I found this FREE HEALTH CAMPS will actually inflicting more damage to people than good. I have seen newly qualified doctors who help NGOs, politicians and charities are reassuring poor people they are healthy. I have never seen any one recall these poor people or followed up to see how their free medical checks benefit patients.

    In UK, patients are getting MOT offered by doctors in surgeries are followed-up and so the result of this study is useful.

    People who pay for Health insurance are offered free blood checks and clinical examinations and reassured they are healthy. I have personally seen patients who went through these tests presenting themselves with complications. Majority of health people do not think about consulting a doctor but the ones who know they have some symptoms that make them anxious are the ones who use these camps to reassure themselves and so delay proper clinical review by doctors.

    The result of this study must be useful for healthcare providers and I hope the politicians BAN these "FREE HEALTH CAMPS" in India and other countries to prevent doctors using this to attract patients to their clinic or hospitals. Institution, NGOs and politicians must be careful in the future because this publication helps patients and doctors like me to threaten legal action against institutions and organisations or healthcare providers to prove their “False reassurance resulted in patients taking proper medical care to prevent complications”

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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