Leicester researchers believe a new health MOT-style programme for over-40s is likely to uncover more diabetes, kidney or heart patients than expected.
University of Leicester researchers have found that the NHS Health Check Programme is likely to find 440,000 people each year who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease or who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Researchers from the Diabetes Research Unit based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, within the University of Leicester, have published their study Joint Prevalence of Diabetes, Impaired Glucose Regulation, Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Chronic Kidney Disease in South Asians and White Europeans in the journal PLOS ONE.
The paper sheds light on the numbers of people in the general population who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or are at high risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
These are the conditions which the NHS Health Check aims to identify in 40 to 74-year-olds. The programme began in 2009 and is being introduced across the UK over five years.
Initial estimates from the Department of Health suggested that the programme would detect at least 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease – but the Leicester researchers believe this figure would be at least 158,000.
In addition, the researchers found that the total number of people likely to be diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease or found to be at risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease following the health check would be 440,000.
This would mean more patients than expected will require support and treatment from general practices around the UK – potentially increasing the workload of GP surgeries but also increasing the potential benefit and impact of the programme.
The study was led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine and Professor Melanie Davies Professor of Diabetes Medicine and Honorary Consultant, University Hospitals of Leicester, both from the University of Leicester’s Diabetes Research Unit. The analysis was carried out by Dr Danielle Morris within their research group.
The researchers looked at patients taking part in a study led by Professor Khunti and Professor Davies which screened individuals from the general population for diabetes and vascular disease.
The researchers used the proportion of new patients discovered within Leicester sample to calculate the proportion of patients likely to be identified by the NHS Health Checks each year.
Professor Khunti said: “This study shows that a high proportion of people attending for the NHS Health Check Programme will have diabetes or chronic kidney disease or be at high risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
“Overall this will lead to better prevention and management of these people with the potential to improve longer term outcomes. However, general practices implementing the programmes in their surgeries have already noticed an enormous increase in workload as a result of the NHS Health Check Programme.”
Bridget Turner, Director of Policy and Care Improvement at Diabetes UK, said: “This research highlights the enormous potential of the NHS Health Check for identifying those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, as well as diagnosing those people who have Type 2 diabetes and do not know it. This is why it is so disappointing that the implementation of the programme has been extremely patchy, with some areas of the country carrying out virtually no checks.
“The responsibility for commissioning the NHS Health Check will shift to local authorities in April. This is a real opportunity to for local government to make a difference and we look forward to working with them to help make sure the programme is finally implemented properly. We have been putting pressure on the Government to ensure that this happens through the new systems of accountability.”
The work was supported by funding from the Department of Health, the University Hospitals of Leicester Diabetes Research Fund, Diabetes UK, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care - Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland (NIHR CLAHRC – LNR) and The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.
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