News

Caution urged on plan for at-home patient health checks

  • Date: 06 December 2022

PATIENTS are to carry out health checks at home as part of a landmark trial that aims to ease GP workloads.

The scheme will see more than 2,000 people in Cornwall carry out their free NHS Health Check remotely, rather than booking a face-to-face GP appointment.

They will be asked to fill in an online questionnaire, use a kit to take a blood sample at home, and complete a blood pressure check at their local pharmacy or in their GP’s waiting room.

The NHS Health Check is a health check-up for adults in England aged 40 to 74 that is designed to prevent stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of dementia. A total of 15 million people are eligible for free NHS Health Checks in England.

If the trial is a success, then the health check could be offered as a digital service to the rest of the country.

Minister for Public Health Neil O'Brien said: "The health check is crucial in preventing and identifying potentially life-threatening conditions, and this digital version will do just that while making patients' lives easier and reducing pressure on frontline services.

"During the pandemic people got used to doing tests at home and getting their results online, so this trial is an opportunity for us to apply some of the lessons we learnt during Covid-19 and improve the way we deliver healthcare."

But the RCGP urged caution and said digital health checks must be robustly evaluated.

RCGP Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said that, while offering patients the opportunity to carry out certain health checks at home "has merit", she added: "We expect to see a robust evaluation of this initiative, before further decisions to roll it out more widely are made.

"Specifically, this needs to look at how digital health checks would link up with GP patient records, and how 'red flag' symptoms or recommendations for lifestyle change picked up by the health checks are managed."

She said there was also potential for the tests to cause "unnecessary worry" for patients who may not know how to interpret their findings, as well as having implications for practice staffing.

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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