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‘Health MOT’ programme could uncover 440,000 new diabetes, heart or kidney patients per year

University of Leicester research shows NHS Health Check programme is likely to uncover higher numbers of patients than initial estimates suggested

Issued by university of Leicster press Office18 April 2013

Leicester researchers believe a new health MOT-style programme for over-40s is likely to uncover more diabetes, kidney or heart patients than expected. 
University of Leicester researchers have found that the NHS Health Check Programme is likely to find 440,000 people each year who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease or who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Researchers from the Diabetes Research Unit based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, within the University of Leicester, have published their study Joint Prevalence of Diabetes, Impaired Glucose Regulation, Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Chronic Kidney Disease in South Asians and White Europeans in the journal PLOS ONE.
The paper sheds light on the numbers of people in the general population who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or are at high risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
These are the conditions which the NHS Health Check aims to identify in 40 to 74-year-olds. The programme began in 2009 and is being introduced across the UK over five years.
Initial estimates from the Department of Health suggested that the programme would detect at least 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease – but the Leicester researchers believe this figure would be at least 158,000.
In addition, the researchers found that the total number of people likely to be diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease or found to be at risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease following the health check would be 440,000.
This would mean more patients than expected will require support and treatment from general practices around the UK – potentially increasing the workload of GP surgeries but also increasing the potential benefit and impact of the programme.
The study was led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine and Professor Melanie Davies Professor of Diabetes Medicine and Honorary Consultant, University Hospitals of Leicester, both from the University of Leicester’s Diabetes Research Unit. The analysis was carried out by Dr Danielle Morris within their research group.  
The researchers looked at patients taking part in a study led by Professor Khunti and Professor Davies which screened individuals from the general population for diabetes and vascular disease.
The researchers used the proportion of new patients discovered within Leicester sample to calculate the proportion of patients likely to be identified by the NHS Health Checks each year.
Professor Khunti said: “This study shows that a high proportion of people attending for the NHS Health Check Programme will have diabetes or chronic kidney disease or be at high risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
“Overall this will lead to better prevention and management of these people with the potential to improve longer term outcomes. However, general practices implementing the programmes in their surgeries have already noticed an enormous increase in workload as a result of the NHS Health Check Programme.”
Bridget Turner, Director of Policy and Care Improvement at Diabetes UK, said: “This research highlights the enormous potential of the NHS Health Check for identifying those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, as well as diagnosing those people who have Type 2 diabetes and do not know it. This is why it is so disappointing that the implementation of the programme has been extremely patchy, with some areas of the country carrying out virtually no checks.
“The responsibility for commissioning the NHS Health Check will shift to local authorities in April. This is a real opportunity to for local government to make a difference and we look forward to working with them to help make sure the programme is finally implemented properly. We have been putting pressure on the Government to ensure that this happens through the new systems of accountability.”
The work was supported by funding from the Department of Health, the University Hospitals of Leicester Diabetes Research Fund, Diabetes UK, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care - Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland (NIHR CLAHRC – LNR) and The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.



The full paper can be found at:

For more information, please contact Professor Kamlesh Khunti through his secretary Mrs Raj Gill.
Address: Leicester Diabetes Centre, Leicester General Hospital, Gwendolen Road, LE5 4PW
Telephone: 0116 258 4005

Diabetes UK notes to editor:

1     Diabetes UK is the leading UK charity that cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of all people affected by and at risk of diabetes.  For more information on all aspects of diabetes and access to Diabetes UK activities and services, visit <>   

2     In the UK, there are around 3.7 million people who have diabetes.  There are 2.9 million people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and around 850,000 more who have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.  As many as 7 million people are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and if current trends continue, an estimated 5 million people will have diabetes by 2025.  

3     Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly.   If not managed well, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications.  Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of lower limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke.  

4     People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin.  About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1.   No one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable.  It usually affects children or young adults, starting suddenly and getting worse quickly.  Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses - taken either by injections or via an insulin pump – a healthy diet and regular physical activity.  

5     People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly (known as insulin resistance).  85 to 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2.  They might get Type 2 diabetes because of their family history, age and ethnic background puts them at increased risk.  They are also more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight.  It starts gradually, usually later in life, and it can be years before they realise they have it. Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.  In addition, tablets and/or insulin can be required.  

6     For more information on reporting on diabetes, download our journalists’ guide: <>

About the National Institute for Health ResearchThe National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website ( <> ).
The views expressed in this news release are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.