GPs may be expected to deliver a new programme of health checks in a few months that was announced by NHS England this week.
The chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard introduced the programme at the NHS Confederation Conference, but gave no details as to how the enormous new national programme would be delivered or funded.
The only operational detail Pritchard shared was that, like Covid-19 jabs, the checks will be delivered in ‘convenient’ locations in local communities including village halls, churches, mosques and local sports centres.
NHSE had likened the scheme to pilots in Leeds, when dentists offered patients blood pressure and heart rhythm tests, and a ‘Vaxi Taxi’ in Croydon that ran blood pressure checks, podiatry services and hepatitis C testing at community vaccination pop-ups for homeless people in London.
The scheme aims to prevent one stroke per 5,000 people offered these checks. It was also noted that the scheme expected to diagnose 37 people with irregular heart rates per 5,000 invites.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the NASGP, writes: “In principle, all GPs know that it is a great idea to uncover latent illness so that it can be appropriately treated in time to prevent overt illness.
“But in practice, primary and secondary care are currently overwhelmed trying to diagnose and treat known illness in a population that is facing ever-increasing delays in treatment, at a time when GP capacity is becoming increasingly scarce.
“Every GP knows about the problems and risks associated with health screening, and every GP knows that this is the worst timing during modern medicine to roll out an untried and untested national screening programme on this scale.
“Whilst grand gestures from civil servants make great headlines, they first need to tackle the small print; we need more GPs to help reduce existing workload before we can even contemplate stepping up preventative measures.”