Patients to trial at-home health checks to ease NHS pressure 

Patients to trial at-home health checks to ease NHS pressure 
© iStock/laflor

Cornwall will be the first area in England to trial NHS Digital Health Check as part of plans to digitise face-to-face health checks. 

The digital health check trial aims to make it easier and more convenient for patients to carry out important health checks and reduce pressure on GPs and has been launched in Cornwall. Participants will inform the design and development of the digital check software.  

The trial is the first of its kind in England and will inform the future of a digital NHS health check. Patients will complete an online questionnaire, use an at-home kit to take a blood sample, and complete a blood pressure check at their local pharmacy or in their GP’s waiting room. The trial will use lessons learnt from at-home COVID-19 testing. 

Free NHS Health checks are available to adults in England

Adults in England aged between 40 and 74 are eligible for the free NHS Health Check, which aims to prevent stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of dementia.  

These health checks are currently delivered face-to-face with GPs, despite many checks can be performed at home, freeing up GPs’ time. Moreover, patients are required to take vital time out of their day to go to their appointment; therefore, the digital health check would reduce this burden. 

Minister for Public Health Neil O’Brien said, “Innovation is key to a modern, forward-looking National Health Service, and this trial will help us understand what a new digital NHS Health Check could look like in the years to come. 

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 and improve the way we deliver healthcare. 

I urge everyone invited to take part in the trial so we can get the best possible data as we look to roll out a national digital check.” 

Digital healthcare is the future of the NHS

The new trial involves 2,000 people from three GP surgeries across Cornwall who are being invited to take part in the trial. Individuals with concerning results will be followed up by their GP.  

The health checks can potentially prevent 1,600 heart attacks, and 4,000 people a year from developing diabetes, detect 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease yearly and avoid at least 650 premature deaths a year.  

Dr Andy Sant, managing director of NHS Cornwall’s North and East Integrated Care Area said: “Much has been achieved in our county around digital inclusion, and the preventative value of health checks is already proven. So, we are delighted that patients in Cornwall are being given the first opportunity to access a digital version through this innovative trial. Amid such sustained pressure upon general practice, this is a welcome and logical progression. 

The associated benefits are wide-reaching, from the convenience and savings for patients, to the positive impact on GP appointments. I hope that everyone who is invited will take up this offer. As well as the personal benefits, they will be helping to inform future advances at a national scale.” 


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