Review of health checks to set clear standards for GPs

Quality standards are being developed to ensure patchy implementation of NHS health checks does not increase health inequalities, GP has learned.

Dr Sivers: consistency is vital
Dr Sivers: consistency is vital

Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS) chief executive Dr Fran Sivers said that after a faltering start the NHS health checks programme was back on track, but must improve.

The PCCS has been looking at the quality of health checks and variation in how they are carried out. Clear guidance was needed to ensure all checks were delivered consistently, she said.

'We have to have simple quality standards in place,' she said. The PCCS is now working with NICE to develop standards to which clinicians undertaking health checks will be expected to adhere, Dr Sivers said.

She also argued that all health checks should be targeted at high-risk patients.

'There are masses of people in the system already who are not having all their risk factors treated, particularly hypertensives and diabetics,' she said.

Dr Sivers said screening the general population was not an efficient use of NHS funds.

'It's a lot of effort and if you have finite resources and you have people whom you already know are at higher risk you should target them,' she said.

'That's not to say you don't find people at higher risk in the general population, but if you spot people you can then do a health check on them.'

Last month, RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and Professor Nick Bosanquet of Imperial College London both called for health checks to be targeted at high-risk groups.

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