Foreword by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director, NHS England
We all know that prevention is better than cure. Yet too often we are presented with health problems in the NHS that could have been prevented. This is attended by a human and financial cost. The NHS Health Check provides us with an opportunity to address risk factors for ill health head-on, with the active participation of individual members of the public by giving them the information they need to make choices about their own health and wellbeing.
The NHS Health Check has important links with our work around diabetes, as one of the key priorities for the NHS. We are facing around 22,000 excess deaths in England per year in people diagnosed with diabetes, and the £5.6bn spent annually on diabetes in England represents a significant part of the NHS budget. The ambition of the National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) is to be the first at-scale nationwide diabetes prevention initiative in place. The NDPP will help us find people at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and work with them to prevent them developing the condition. The NHS Health Check programme will serve as one of the main routes of referral into the NDPP.
Prevention can also be enabled by modifying ‘upstream’ elements to create supportive environments for better health and wellbeing. That’s why the NHS is investing £5m in the NHS Healthy Workforce programme to help improve the health of NHS staff. This includes discussions with suppliers of food and drink on NHS premises, including consideration for a 20% sugar tax.
As the first prevention programme delivered on a national scale, the NHS Health Check is an innovative initiative to identify and help those people who might otherwise be at risk of serious health problems in the future. The programme is a credit to local government and the NHS, and all those involved in its delivery and implementation. Continued commitment to NHS Health Checks is vital, as prevention is no longer merely a nicety, it’s a necessity.
 Health and Social Care Information Centre (2015) National Diabetes Audit 2012-2013 Report 2: Complications and Mortality. Available at: www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB16496/nati-diab-audi-12-13-rep2.pdf (accessed 7 March 2016)
 The National Audit Office (2015) The management of adult diabetes services in the NHS: progress review. Available at: www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-management-of-adult-diabetes-services-in-the-NHS-progress-review.pdf (accessed 7 March 2016)