Successful start for community health checks
As part of a local pilot led by public health in Tower Hamlets Council, health checks are being carried out across community settings in order to assess a patient’s risk of developing some of the UK’s most preventable diseases including diabetes, stroke and heart disease. The checks identify risk factors for such diseases and also test for diabetes.
Cllr Abdul Asad, lead member for health and wellbeing, chatted with residents at the Dorset luncheon club on Monday March 24 where health professionals screened 26 people, with many appointments made for future dates.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman said: “Increasing awareness of health checks amongst our residents is a top priority for Tower Hamlets Council. Residents can learn about health concerns that may run in their family, enabling them to better manage their own health and take preventative steps towards improving it.”
Locally, Tower Hamlets has the highest or second highest death rates in London for the three major killers: cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic lung disease.¹
There are also high rates of type 2 diabetes, particularly amongst the south Asian and Black populations. In March 2013, there were nearly 14,000 diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes in Tower Hamlets, with an estimated 2,000 people with undiagnosed diabetes.²
Cllr Abdul Asad said: “This is an important initiative for Tower Hamlets which has high premature death rates from preventable vascular diseases and a rising rate of diabetes. Increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of these checks is essential to further uptake.”
Dr Somen Banerjee, director of Tower Hamlets public health said: “We are looking to develop this programme and explore different settings where we can offer checks outside GP practices. Identifying conditions such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol or diabetes as early as possible is vital because there are ways you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, identifying diabetes as early as possible is important in preventing future complications of the condition.”
The results of the health checks are provided to the patient straight away, along with health advice and information on appropriate services.
Dr Sam Everington, chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a local GP said:
“As GPs, we’re working closely with Tower Hamlets Council and other health organisations to help our residents to live longer, healthier lives. Having regular health checks can significantly reduce people’s risk of developing serious health problems in the future. We strongly encourage people to take up these health checks when offered in the community or by their local GP practice.”