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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbria among England's worst areas for free health checks

Not enough Cumbrian patients are being offered free health checks to test for conditions like diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.

A new report puts the county among the worst performing areas of England.

Diabetes UK found that just 0.5 per cent of eligible Cumbrians – a total of 904 people – were offered one of the checks in the last financial year.

The England average was higher, at 13.9 per cent, putting the county in the bottom quarter of areas nationally.

The NHS Health Checks should be offered to those aged 40 to 74 every five years. But the charity, which compiled the ‘Let’s Get it Right’ report, has highlighted that in many parts of England patients are missing out.

It has concluded that, with diabetes alone, about 100 Cumbrians who are unknowingly living with the condition are likely to have missed the chance of having it diagnosed in the last financial year.

And it warns that poor local implementation of the NHS Health Check means people are missing the chance to help prevent serious illness.

Diabetes UK accepts that the poor performance is gradually improving in Cumbria, with overall rates increasing to one per cent so far this year. Figures show 1,674 people were checked between April and June.

But Helen Pattie, its regional manager for the north west, is demanding that health and council leaders in Cumbria give it a much higher priority.

She said: “The failure to properly implement the NHS Health Check in Cumbria has potentially dire consequences.

“Those people who missed being diagnosed last year are at increased risk of amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.

“Diabetes UK will continue to monitor delivery over the months ahead and we expect to see people getting the access that they deserve.”

The charity is also urging people aged 40 to 74 who have not had a health check to ask their GP for one.

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