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   Aug 02

Are health MOTs for the over-40s useless? Illnesses they’re designed to spot could be ‘equally well detected’ without the check-up

NHS Health Check, introduced in 2009, is offered to those aged 40-74

Checks for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease
But study found scheme detected no more cases than standard GP care

Says regular consultations may be just as effective – without causing worry

Health MOTs routinely offered to over-40s on the NHS may be a waste of time, new research suggests.

Illnesses picked up during the mid-life health checks could be ‘equally well detected’ without the scheme, it has been claimed.

Mid-life health checks may be no more effective at picking up chronic conditions than regular GP consultations

The NHS Health Check was launched in 2009 to assess and treat patients aged 40 to 74 for their risk of developing heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

But the new study claims the number of people being diagnosed with certain conditions has not risen since the programme was introduced.

As a result, it appears that standard care provided by GPs is just as effective at detecting conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

It is not the first time the MOTs have come under fire. Last year researchers claimed the Government’s £300 million-a-year scheme actually puts patients at risk of unnecessary treatment.

Worldwide trials involving 180,000 people showed it is the ‘worried well’ who tend to turn up for the checks, meaning money is spent on reassuring them rather than on treating the truly sick.

At the time, Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, backed the calls to end the routine checks, claiming they ‘devalued medicine’ and led to patients being needlessly worried as family doctors waste time on people who are not sick.

‘You always find something that you can’t explain and then you do more tests,’ she said. ‘We’re constantly having to explain to patients that actually there’s nothing wrong.’

In the new study, experts examined changes in the prevalence of key conditions among patients registered with GP practices that did and did not offer the service.

These conditions were diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation.

The research looked at 38 surgeries in Warwickshire that offered the NHS Health Check and 41 in the area that just provided standard care, over a three-year period from 2010 to 2013.

There was no difference in the prevalence of ailments between those than offered the checks and those that provided usual care, the authors said.

‘The implication is that the provision of NHS Health Checks in GP practices may not be different from usual care,’ they added.

The study was published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Health MOTs check for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation

Source: Daily Mail

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