Foreword – Dr Dawn Harper (GP and TV presenter)
I was delighted to be asked to take part in the NHS Health Check national conference at the Royal Armouries in Leeds last month. While many of you may know me from the work I do on TV (on programmes such as ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ and ‘This Morning’), I am first and foremost a GP working in the community in Gloucestershire. During my career I have seen first-hand the impact that behavioural and physiological risk factors can have on individuals and on their families and friends. That’s why I wanted to take part in the conference because I know what an important role GPs and other health professionals play in getting serious about disease prevention.
I am a real fan of the NHS Health Check. Up until recent years we haven’t had a national health service, we have had a national ill service. The NHS Health Check provides a tremendous opportunity for primary care to be more proactive about prevention rather than our historical focus on cure and disease management. The NHS is facing possible bankruptcy due to non-communicable diseases, with type 2 diabetes alone possibly financially crippling the NHS if we don’t do something about it soon.
While talking to delegates at the conference, I was inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication from all colleagues working on this programme. Listening to the workshops and visiting the marketplace, there is a wealth of talent and innovation that is helping to shape the NHS Health Check as a world leading prevention programme. You should all be very proud of your achievements to date.
Disease prevention is something that GPs and more widely primary care have to make their business if we are going to protect the NHS from the growing demands attributed to preventable disease. I am committed to raising the profile of the NHS Health Check and working with you all to make this programme work. It will only be through strong clinical and public health leadership that we will be able to secure the NHS for the next generation, something we should all be passionate about.