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CQC Essentials: NHS health checks

The CQC will look to see how well people are supported to live healthier lives during its inspections. One measure of this is whether people aged 40-74 have access to NHS health checks.

This article relates to the CQC key question: Is your practice effective? 

Prevention is a core part of the work of general practice.

Consultations often provide an opportunity for primary prevention, advising and supporting patients to live healthier lives and reduce their risk of ill health.

Secondary prevention is equally important - reducing the risk of subsequent illness through prompt diagnosis and management of conditions such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation and type 2 diabetes.

NHS health checks

The NHS health check programme aims to keep people well for longer by preventing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 who does not have a pre-existing condition or certain risk factors is invited once every five years to assess their level of cardiovascular risk and to identify risk factors.

  • For behavioural risk (such as being overweight, smoking and alcohol intake) people should receive brief interventions and be signposted to more intensive support.
  • For physiological risk factors (such as newly detected high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease or high ten year risk of CVD and high risk of diabetes) people need their GP practice to do follow up investigations and manage their condition.

The NHS health check is commissioned by local authorities. Many are provided by GPs but some are conducted by external providers such as community pharmacists.

What does the CQC expect GP practices to be doing?

When we are inspecting how effective care is we look to see how well people are supported to live healthier lives. One measure of this, in our key line of enquiry E7, is whether people aged 40-74 have access to NHS health checks. For example:

  • Does the practice have a system in place for appropriate call and recall?
  • If the NHS health check is conducted by an external provider, does the practice work with the commissioner to identify eligible patients?

We are particularly interested to know that there is appropriate follow up after a person has had an NHS health check assessment. For example, are patients signposted to support to encourage behavioural change, and is there appropriate investigation and management for those found to have clinical or biochemical abnormalities?

Where the NHS health check is conducted by an external provider we will want to know that the practice has an effective system for transferring health check data to the patient's health record and for ensuring appropriate clinical follow up when abnormalities have been detected.

Find out more

Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

More CQC resources

Picture: Life in View/Science Photo Library

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