Book a Health Check to defuse the diabetes timebomb

By on 15/04/2014 in Blog, Cllr Bedser

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, backs a Diabetes UK campaign urging more people to book NHS Health Checks.

So how much do you know about Diabetes?

Shockingly, many people still think of it as a relatively mild condition that can be easily managed. They don't realise it can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke.

But,  while diabetes can be an extremely life-limiting condition, you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing the most common form (Type 2) by making positive changes to your lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly are ways of preventing type 2 diabetes and managing the condition.

And if, like me, you’re aged between 40 and 74, the first step towards minimising that risk is to speak to your GP about a free NHS health check.

As Diabetes UK make clear in a report today, NHS Health Checks are an important and integral part of Type 2 diabetes prevention.

  • It is estimated that Health Checks could prevent 4,000 people a year from developing diabetes, if fully implemented.
  • Health Checks can also help to identify those who are unaware that they have diabetes, and so enable them to get access to care and treatment to reduce their risk of life threatening complications.
  • The estimated savings to the NHS budget nationally are around £57 million over four years, rising to £176 million over a fifteen-year period. It is estimated that the programme will pay for itself after 20 years, as well as having delivered substantial health benefits.

Birmingham consistently out-performs the national average in the delivery of NHS Health Checks.

Appointments offered 2013-2014 (percentage)

  • National: 13.2
  • Birmingham: 18

Percentage of people that received an NHS Health Check of those offered 2013-2014

  • National: 48.1
  • Birmingham: 53.7

Pleasing statistics but of course we know there is always room for improvement.

Our city has higher than average smoking and obesity rates, residents have poorer diets, exercise less and consume more harmful levels of alcohol than other parts of the UK. So for the many eligible people who have not yet taken up the offer of a free Health Check, my advice would be to speak to your GP as soon as possible.

We will also continue to target specific communities. For example, there's a higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the South Asian population, so last summer Birmingham Public Health worked closely with national charity Silver Star to provide healthcare advice to diabetics during Ramadan.

We will repeat that message this year and in the meantime I would urge people aged 40-74 from all communities across the city to book a Health Check as quickly as possible.

It could be the smartest decision you ever make.

Find out more about NHS Health Checks

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