People aged between 40 and 74, who have not already been diagnosed with the above conditions, will be invited for a free health check every five years, as part of a rolling programme.
The new campaign will help get the message to people who may not be registered with a GP or do not visit their GP practice regularly. Thorley Taverns is supporting the campaign in their pubs.
Dr Marion Gibbon, Consultant in Public Health at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “You will get an invite from the NHS for a health check in the next five years if you are aged between 40-74 years. The check gives GPs a clearer picture of your health so they can work together with you to take action to reduce the risk of developing serious conditions.
“It is important to go to your health check. Even if you feel well, we urge you to go along."
This year, NHS Kent and Medway will be offering more health checks than ever before. Around £1.2million has been invested in west Kent and the same amount in east Kent to deliver the health checks. GP practices have also been offered free training by NHS Kent and Medway.
In east Kent and Medway, health checks are provided by GP practices.
In West Kent, health checks are being delivered by GP practices and trained teams from Kent Community Health Trust. Health checks are also being delivered by other providers, such as district councils who also run lifestyle support services, such as weight management programmes.
The check takes half an hour and will be carried out by a trained member of the primary care or GP team, such as a health care assistant or nurse specialist. The check includes:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol test
- Questions about medical history, including age and ethnic background and that of your close family
Patients will be given personalised health advice to lower their risk and keep a healthy lifestyle. Some people will be asked to come back for further tests to check their kidneys and for type 2 diabetes. GPs may then prescribe treatment or medication.
Dr Gibbon added: "People do not need to worry if they've yet to receive an invite. All those in the target age group will be offered a check within the first five-year roll out of the programme and then every five years after that."
Rainham Mark, Tunbridge Wells and Sittingbourne
Like many men, David Gruber, 52, from Rainham Mark, doesn’t often go to the doctor. There’s just no need as he’s almost never ill.
He has a busy lifestyle and keeps himself fit and strong with long days working on a building site, twice-daily gym sessions and occasional runs with his wife, Sarah.
As a lifelong non-smoker and moderate drinker, he had every reason for thinking he was in tiptop condition when he was invited for a free NHS Health Check.
It came as a shock when he eventually got round to having the check at his GP practice, Thames Avenue surgery in Rainham, and found out the results.
The check revealed he had an excess level of cholesterol in his blood, putting him at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
“I was really taken by surprise to find my arteries were in danger of furring up,” says David,
“I knew my diet wasn’t perfect - I ate a lot of red meat and had eggs, sausages and bacon for breakfast every day. But I didn’t think it would be doing me any harm.
"It’s funny – we all know the advice, but until you find out that eating the wrong things is affecting you and your health, it’s easy to ignore it.”
Healthcare assistant Angela Mudge, who carried out the check, has advised David on his food intake.
David has now made some simple changes to his life to avoid developing a serious condition.
He has swapped the breakfast fry ups for fruit, has lots of chicken, rice and vegetables for dinner, and red meat only occasionally. He feels less bloated and has lost weight.
“My advice to anyone else putting off their health check is to get on with it,” he says.
“I am so glad I went. By making changes now, I have got a good chance of preventing serious illness later.”
Susie Kern,56, from Tunbridge Wells, had her health check last autumn and vowed afterwards that she would stop sitting down and become more active.
Susie, a Team Leader for Public Health Nursing at Kent Community Health Trust, said: “In my job I spend time encouraging and advising people how to live more healthily. After my health check, I realised that I needed to look after myself and practise what I preached.”
“I had heard about the health check programme through work. When I got the invite from my GP, I took up the offer straight away.
“I was seen at the Tunbridge Wells Gateway by a nurse who carried out a range of tests. She took my blood pressure, tested my cholesterol, measured my weight and worked out my Body Mass Index. We also talked about any health issues I have.”
Susie’s health check revealed that she was slightly overweight and that her Body Mass Index (BMI) was higher than it should be and her blood pressure was raised.
“The check was a wake-up call. I am in the health business and my health check results made me realise the effect my lifestyle is having on my body.
“My job means I spend most of the day sitting down and it is all too easy to talk yourself out of doing some exercise in the evening. I talked through what I needed to do with the nurse, such as portion control, eating less and getting more active on a daily basis.”
Within a month of having the health check, Susie started to put her fitness plan into action.
“I said no to biscuits at work and took healthy fruit options instead. I went to the gym and swam every week, as well as signing up for Zumba. The classes really motivate me to turn up and, best of all, it is fun.
Susie is already seeing improvements. She said: “I have much more energy and feel great. I’ve just come back from a walking holiday in Portugal, which is something I might have struggled with before. But I’ve still got some work to do on my diet.”
She adds: “I urge everyone to go along to their health check. Little changes can make such a difference.”
Pauline Martin, 60, from The Willows, Sittingbourne, reached her 60th birthday in December and had a few aches and pains that had played on her mind.
She was recently invited by her GP for a health check at the Memorial Medical Centre and welcomed the opportunity to chat through her medical history.
Pauline, a benefits advisor at Swale Borough Council. said: “As you get older you worry that aches and pains or feeling tired could be the signs of something more serious. It is easy to get frightened reading the newspapers.
“I thought my health check was like a little health MOT. It took just 25 minutes but gave me such great reassurance.
“The nurse was lovely and went through my weight, height, blood pressure and I had a couple of finger prick blood tests, which didn’t hurt at all.
Pauline’s health check revealed that that her cholesterol was a little higher than it should be. She said: “Everything was fine apart from my cholesterol, so I am going back to my GP next week for a more detailed blood test.
Pauline is also going to watch her sugar intake, she said: “What I found helpful was a picture the nurse printed for me which had a plate of food showing how much should be vegetables and lean meat and how much should be sweet things and bread, potatoes, pasta or rice.
“While I am in pretty good shape, the nurse said that watching the size of my middle is a good guide for health. I am going to cut down on the sweet things to keep trim. I’ve told everyone at work about my health check and now we are all going to watch our spare tyres!”
Pauline added: “I am going to be seen in again in five years’ time. I like the idea that someone is keeping an eye on my health.”
13 September 2012