NHS Health Check eBulletin

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Foreword by Dr Matt Kearney, National Clinical Advisor, Public Health England and NHS England


Matt Kearney

A key role for the NHS Health Check is to identify people with undiagnosed physiological risk factors such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation (AF), chronic kidney disease and high risk of diabetes. Once diagnosed, follow up in primary care is essential to ensure that people undergo further investigation and receive appropriate treatment to minimise their risk.

The Primary Care Cardiovascular disease (CVD) Leadership Forum, a group of 30 GPs, nurses and pharmacists, has just launched the atrial fibrillation intelligence packs  'AF: how can we do better?'. These were developed in partnership with the Stroke Association, the Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Physicians and the National Cardiovascular Intelligence Network at Public Health England. The packs, one for every Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in England, include a page of infographics together with key messages developed by clinicians in the forum. The messages articulate 'what we need to know' in AF and highlight what practices and CCGs can do to improve detection and stroke prevention.

The forum is now working on a blood pressure intelligence pack which will use the same format to articulate key messages around hypertension.

The larger CVD intelligence packs that were published early in 2015 are now being refreshed with the updated Quality Outcome Framework data. These packs are being used in a series of regional workshops organised by NHS England and the Strategic Clinical Networks – the workshops support teams from CCGs to identify priority clinical areas in CVD and to draft an action plan for improvement, with support for primary care leadership being central to the action plan.

Operational update by Jamie Waterall, National Lead, NHS Health Check & Blood Pressure Programmes, Public Health England (PHE)

Jamie Waterall - May 2014

I would like to start by thanking everyone who submitted an abstract for next year’s NHS Health Check conference ‘Getting serious about prevention’. The quality of submissions was high and wide-ranging in topic, demonstrating the tremendous efforts being made to evaluate the programme. Successful candidates chosen to deliver either an oral or poster presentation will be notified over the next month. Bookings for the conference, which will take place on 1 March 2016, and will open in November.

Earlier in October I had the opportunity to visit colleagues in Yorkshire and Humber (pictured above right) to discuss the challenges and opportunities in implementing the NHS Health Check programme in their region. I wanted to personally thank colleagues for their incredible leadership and commitment towards this programme. It is through visits like this that I hear about the local impact the programme is having within communities. Colleagues from Leeds local authority talked about the impact the programme is having in reducing health inequalities across their city and how colleagues in Barnsley are using the programme to train their workforce in motivational interviewing. I would also like to thank colleagues for their honesty in terms of describing the challenges, such as the impact of reduced public health budgets. I have committed to sharing these concerns, while also continuing to look for opportunities for PHE to support local teams. For example, we are currently discussing with our branding marketing team how we can further support areas to increase awareness of the NHS Health Check, which in turn will support increased uptake.

Colleagues will probably recall that in July 2013, we published a ten-point action plan for the programme, which had been developed after listening to commissioners and providers across England. This has allowed us to focus on the things you considered important at the time, such as:

  • creating a national leadership voice for the programme
  • developing resources to support quality and consistency
  • supporting further research and evaluation of the programme to understand value and impact
  • creating local and national networks to facilitate sharing and provide direction towards PHE’s national programme of oversight and support

I am pleased to inform you that we have commissioned another listening exercise which will reflect on our progress against this action plan, while also considering the new and emerging challenges. This work will also allow us to conduct several deep dives into local areas that are achieving impressive outcomes, and to look at those areas that are finding implementation of the programme challenging. Invitations to participate in this research will be going out to all local authorities and I would encourage you to participate as your insights and comments will help shape our support going forward.  

Finally, you will find resources and our webinar schedule on our website. We are always keen to hear from you regarding new content suggestions for future webinars, so do get in touch if you have anything to share.

West Midlands update by Mohammed Vaqar, Public Health England

Local and national success with Healthy Living Pharmacies in Dudley led the public health team with the Dudley local optometry committee to consider the development of a Healthy Living Opticians framework. 

The Director of Public Health met the committee and discussed a range of public health services that optical practices could be involved with, such as smoking, alcohol, weight-management, because of the links with eye health, and the NHS Health Check.

The optometrists were particularly interested in providing the NHS Health Check, as with an eye test, they can pick up if a patient has high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Currently optometrists encourage patients to have an NHS Health Check but if they could provide it in their practices this would improve patient experience.

Dudley currently has ten optical practices that have started training to deliver the NHS Health Check, with another two waiting to be trained. A prospectus and quality criteria have been produced to support the scheme. As with Healthy Living Pharmacies, Healthy Living Opticians must have an identified leader, at least one health champion (with a Royal Society for Public Health Level 2 (RSPH L2) award) and a health information zone. They must proactively promote and point people to other services, and offer smoking cessation and alcohol interventions as a minimum.

In Sandwell a variety of methods have been introduced to target high risk and vulnerable eligible populations. Sandwell Lifestyle Choices, a one-stop shop for Sandwell Public Health services, recently piloted a scheme where council tenants were made aware of the NHS Health Check through their council tenant cards. In total 28,000 council tenants were sent NHS Health Check leaflets.

To date just over 50.8% of all contacts for the NHS Health Check programme have been made through council rent cards promotion and the evaluations of the pilot has shown this method to be most effective compared to other promotional campaigns. The A4 leaflet worked well with the rent card dimensions and fitted into the single rent card envelope, no additional costs were incurred other than printing.

For more information about these case studies please contact Mohammed.Vaqar@phe.gov.uk

Learner workbook supporting materials and training resources

A new resource has been developed and added to the national website to support learners and assessors completing the NHS Health Check learner workbook. The learner workbook supporting materials and training resources includes 11 pages for each learner workbook unit. Each unit page includes a summary of the learning outcomes to be achieved and links to relevant supporting materials (national guidance, locally developed training videos, presentations and e-learning courses).

The easy-to-navigate tool helps assessors point learners to supporting materials that will develop their skills or fill the knowledge gaps identified during local training and assessments. This resource has been developed in partnership with the PHE South West NHS Health Check network, local providers and motivational interviewing trainers. We thank all colleagues involved in the development of this resource.

The online resource is for health and social care staff who deliver the NHS Health Check and is arranged in a structured way that aligns training materials and example documents against the competence standards. It can be used as a tool to assist you in completing the learner workbook and supporting assessors who are required to sign colleagues off as being competent.” Amanda Chappell, Commissioning Manager for NHS Health Check, Bristol City Council

If you would like to share locally developed training resources on this website, email nhshealthchecks.mailbox@phe.gov.uk. Read more about how to use the learner workbook supporting materials and training resource here.  

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