Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Public Health

England’s MOT health test for people aged 40-74 years is ineffective, say researchers

The NHS health check programme is ineffective and wasting £450 million a year. In the image, patient has a health check with a GP

Source: Phanie / Alamy Stock Photo

The NHS Health Check is aimed at adults in England aged 40–74 years to give GPs a clearer picture of their health

The NHS health check programme is ineffective and wastes £450m a year that could be better spent promoting a healthy lifestyle, according to research published in the Journal of Public Health[1]

Researchers say the programme — described as a mid-life MOT for people aged 40–74 years in England — fails to meet a number of health screening criteria laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

It fails on test suitability because the risk calculator has the potential to miss more than a third of people who go on to have a heart attack or stroke, the researchers argue.

The average uptake of the check — around 50% — means it also fails to achieve WHO criteria for being an acceptable test. The programme does not have a continued recruitment process, missing the mark on another WHO goal. 

The health checks prevent around 1,000 deaths a year, according to the study, and it is uncertain whether that figure meets WHO criteria regarding treatment effectiveness. And the annual cost of the scheme — estimated to be around £450m a year — throws into doubt whether it is cost effective according to WHO gold standards. The researchers calculate that each life saved is costing £450,000 a year. 

The researchers say that using resources to promote healthy eating has the potential to halve the development of early cardiovascular disease. They argue that at a time of austerity, healthcare professionals and local authorities are having to run a programme that has “debatable” health and cost effective benefits. At the same time, civil servants feel compelled to “toe the party line” and support government policy even if the evidence “points in the opposite direction”. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069454

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • The NHS health check programme is ineffective and wasting £450 million a year. In the image, patient has a health check with a GP

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.