The College has said that too many patients in England are missing out on key NHS health check-ups.

Statistics published today show that just 49% of people in England, between January and March 2019, had an NHS health check-up after receiving an invitation letter.

The North of England had some of the poorest rates in the country in the same quarter, with just 33% in the North East and 37% in Yorkshire and The Humber having had a check-up. Meanwhile, London (51%) and the South East (55%) had some of the better check-up rates.

The NHS health check-up is vital for spotting the early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia in adults in England aged 40-74. NHS England works with patients to lower their risk of developing these diseases; aiming to reduce long-term demand at hospitals across the country.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, said in November 2018 that prevention was one of his key priorities.

Professor Bell believes that check-up invitations by text and letter should be stepped up, pointing to a low cost initiative in Southwark in London, where two texts and three letters were sent to patients.

Commenting, Professor Bell said:

The NHS health check-up is an important tool, which helps medical professionals to spot the signs of deadly disease early.

The earlier medical professionals have an opportunity spot the warning signs, the better a chance they have of preventing disease from developing and becoming more serious, by working directly with patients to lower their risk factors.

As people live for longer, which is a real testament to modern medicine and the world-class treatment NHS staff provide, initiatives like the NHS health check-up will become more important as we aim to reduce long-term demand on hospitals across England.

The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has stated that his focus is on preventing illness and deadly diseases. But currently, far too few people are having this key health check-up.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh want the health secretary to work closely with all of the Medical Royal Colleges, doctors and NHS England to ensure that progress is made on preventing ill health and long term health conditions.

As part of that, we want him to undertake measures to improve uptake of NHS health checks, to ensure that patients aren't missing out this important service.


1. NHS Health Check quarterly statistics: January to March 2019 offers and uptake was published on 13 June 2019. All official information can be found here.

2. More information about the NHS health check-up can be found here.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658