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Uptake of the NHS Health Check programme in an urban setting

The NHS Health Check programme aims to improve prevention, early diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in England. High and equitable uptake is essential for the programme to effectively reduce the CVD burden. In a study published in the journal Family Practice and reported on by Pulse, Macide Artac and colleagues assessed the impact of a local financial incentive scheme on uptake and statin prescribing in the first 2 years of the programme. They carried out a cross-sectional study using data from electronic medical records of general practices in Hammersmith and Fulham, London on all patients aged 40–74 years. They assessed uptake of complete Health Check, exclusion of patients from the programme (exception reporting) and statin prescriptions in patients confirmed with high CVD risk.

They reported that Health Check uptake was 32.7% in Year 1 and 20.0% in Year 2. Older patients had higher uptake of Health Check than younger (65- to 74-year-old patients: The percentage of confirmed high risk patients prescribed a statin was 18% before and 53% after the programme. There was a marked variation in Health Check uptake, exception reporting and statin prescribing between practices. They concluded that uptake of the Health Check was low in the first year in patients with estimated high risk despite financial incentives to general practices; although this matched the national required rate in second year. Further evaluations for cost and clinical effectiveness of the programme are needed to clarify whether this spending is appropriate, and to assess the impact of financial incentives on programme performance.

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