England faces an epidemic of largely preventable non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and liver disease. The Global Burden of Disease Study (2010) highlighted premature mortality in the UK is falling, but not as fast as in many other European countries.
NHS Health Check provides an opportunity to engage with the public about their health and focuses on prevention and risk reduction. It was introduced in April 2009 and is offered every five years to people aged 40-74 who have not previously been diagnosed with vascular disease. The programme systematically targets the top seven causes of preventable death and disability: high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption. The early identification and management of these risk factors could substantially reduce the morbidity, mortality and health inequalities that result from the diseases they cause.
Public Health England took over leadership of the NHS Health Check programme in April 2013 and one of our key commitments was to bring greater scientific rigour and oversight to the programme. Consequently, we have established an Expert Scientific and Clinical Advisory Panel (ESCAP) that is responsible for reviewing emerging evidence and promoting future research, development and evaluation of the programme. We have recently opened up the NHS Health Check programme’s proposed research prioritiesfor consultation. The aim of the paper is to generate relevant new knowledge and then translate it into practice. The paper includes five strategic priorities:
- generate new knowledge to improve and protect health and bridge gaps in the research base
- build and share a high-quality infrastructure to enable research by PHE and others
- support and develop relevant research capacity in PHE and elsewhere
- drive translation of research into practice in public health
- communicate widely and openly about research and its contribution to improving and protecting health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities
This will allow us to better understand the impact of the programme, to maximise its benefits to population health, and to contribute to the international evidence base.
We are now asking our partners and stakeholders to tell us what they think about the research priorities so we can gather a broad range of opinions. However, research is not an end in itself, but a pragmatic exercise that supports delivery of public health by generating new knowledge and applying that knowledge for the public good. Good research must be translated effectively into improved and more efficient practice. We aim to ensure the research priorities are translated into an effective NHS Health Check programme that has the biggest health impact.
The consultation closes on Friday 19 December and to take part visit here.
Professor John Newton,
Chief Knowledge Officer at Public Health England
Professor Kevin Fenton
Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England