Leighton Buzzard residents the worst for take-up of free NHS health checks in Beds CCG area

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Leighton Buzzard is the worst area under the remit of Beds Clinical Commissioning Group for the take-up of free NHS health checks.

So far this financial year, latest figures show that 745 people have taken advantage of the free assessment for those aged 40 to 74, who do not have an existing vascular disease, and who are not being treated for certain risk factors.

The target figure for Leighton Buzzard was 891 checks by this date, which at 86.6% puts it below the CCG’s other localities, Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire.

The lower take-up (only Bassett Road Surgery is meeting its target) is despite Leighton Buzzard surgeries exceeding their target for the number of health checks offered to patients up to this point in the year, with 2,255 offered against the aim for 2,025 (111.4%).

For those that do have the check, which should be offered every five years, the good news is that Leighton Buzzard ranks first out of the five Beds CCG zones for the quality of those health checks it has delivered. It scored 98.3% against a Beds CCG average of 96.6%.

Currently GP practices are the sole provider of the checks.

Figures for April 2016 to February 2017 also showed a deficit, with 1,089 checks carried out at Salisbury House, Bassett Road and Leighton Road surgeries combined, equating to 84.7% of the target. Quality of the checks was high at 98.9%.

A spokesman for Beds CCG said: “The NHS Health Check which is offered to everyone aged 40-74 aims to prevent premature death from diseases such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes.

“The health check looks for warning signs of a patient being at higher than average risk of developing these conditions. Some warning signs of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are “silent”, which means they have no symptoms. So you can feel well even though your risk is raised.

“The health check identifies warning signs, patients can then be given lifestyle advice and possibly medical treatment to bring their risk down. The offers of health checks in Leighton Buzzard and the quality of the checks are above target, however it is a patients choice as to whether they wish to take up the offer of the health check, this is the case nationally.”

The NHS says the uptake needs to increase to optimise the clinical and cost effectiveness.