Dr Eugenia Lee, the practice's public health lead, was concerned that health inequalities identified across Greenwich borough implied that a significant number of patients in her practice had undiagnosed long-term conditions.
'An in-house review showed that patients on our QOF registers were well managed with good health outcomes but there was a significant number of patients, especially men in black and minority ethnic groups, who had not accessed the surgery for many years,' she said.
'This "hard-to-reach" group resided not only in Thamesmead but also across the whole borough'.
The practice applied for funding through NHS Greenwich to launch an opportunistic screening programme and on eight consecutive Saturday mornings offered checks at a local supermarket.
These included measurements of BP, random blood glucose and BMI, with spirometry offered to smokers.
Dr Lee said the whole practice team, from GP partners to reception staff, participated alongside NHS health promotion colleagues who offered tailored lifestyle advice. Of the 1,024 participants screened, 424 were offered follow-up for one or more abnormal readings. Of these, 325 had no previously diagnosed disease.
A total of 95 had raised random blood glucose, 172 had a raised BP reading and 93 had an abnormal spirometry result. At six-month follow-up, 210 of the 325 participants with previously undiagnosed conditions or abnormal readings had seen their GP as advised (64.6%). Of these, 208 (64%) had undergone further investigations and 155 went on to have medications prescribed (47.7%).
'This initiative not only benefited those with undiagnosed pre-existing conditions, it also helped those with borderline results to initiate lifestyle changes,' said Dr Lee.
The project helped local commissioners to assess the benefit of opportunistic health checks through an outreach model, which has since been rolled out to other major public spaces, including places of worship and workplaces where the staff are predominantly male. Dr Lee, said: 'Our practice is passionate about delivering high-quality care and playing an active role in the community, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.'
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