LES boosts uptake of enhanced health check

GPs who signed up to an ambitious NHS Health Check local enhanced service (LES) are on track to far exceed the national target for the programme.

Practices were given payments linked to their coverage of the eligible population (Photograph: SPL)
Practices were given payments linked to their coverage of the eligible population (Photograph: SPL)

Practices in NHS Heart of Birmingham provided vasc­ular checks to 36% of the eligible population in 2010/11, double the national goal of 18% per year.

Whereas many other trusts pay a fixed amount for each pat­ient screened, the Birmingham LES linked payment to coverage of the eligible population. GPs were also asked to target harder-to-reach patients without a recorded ethnicity.

Consultant diabetologist Dr Felix Burden, clinical director for long-term conditions at the trust, told a diabetes conference in London last month: ‘We’re on track to get more than 75% screened within three years.’ This surpasses the national goal of 60% after three years.

He told GP he believes practices in the region have now screened proportionally more patients over the past three years than any other trust.

Dr Burden added: ‘The screening programme has done more than most, in that we have screened all those att­ending with both HbA1c and creatinine tests, as well as the more standard items.’

The government wants the NHS in England to assess the vascular health of 16m people aged 40 to 74 over five years.

But a survey by the charity Heart UK has found provision is ‘slow and patchy’. On average, each PCT screened under 6% of eligible patients in 2010/11 and nine trusts failed to provide a single check.

GPs in NHS Heart of Birmin­gham were invited to sign up to the LES when the NHS Health Checks scheme began in April 2009.

They earned maximum payment by screening 15% of eligible patients in 2009/10, rising to reach 50% in 2010/11 and 75% by this April.

The trust screened 20,632 of 57,000 eligible patients in 2010/11, placing it third in the country, despite having one of the most deprived populations.

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