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Heart health checks for over 40s not being taken up

15th August 2012

A Freedom of Information Act request by GP magazine has shown a significant number of people aged 40-74 are not being offered heart health checks.

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The magazine sent FOI requests to the 141 primary health care trusts in England and 118 responded.

GPs are meant to offer a fifth of their patients in the 40-74 age group a heart health check but the request showed only 14% had been given the test. 

The request also showed that 20% of PCTs said they would not meet the compulsory target for 2012-13, which came into force in April.

The data revealed 1.7 million checks were offered to patients last year and 920,000 checks were performed.

The number of checks offered and carried out increased from the previous year, when 645,000 checks were performed and 1.1 million were offered to patients.

However two-thirds of PCTs did not offer enough heart health checks to reach the government's target.

Jules Payne, chief executive of Heart UK, said: "This has all the classic ingredients of health inequalities and a postcode lottery for accessing services."

"The study's finding of declining patient uptake may suggest problems with the way in which health checks are being offered. PCTs should be asking themselves questions about how and where health checks are being promoted and explained to their patients.

"We'd like to see a broader range of sites and opportunities to encourage all eligible people to take up their health check, and not just the 'worried well'." 

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