'I was diagnosed with diabetes after NHS Health Check'

Health checks 1

Motorbike enthusiast Mark Taylor is urging people to sign up for a free NHS Health Check – after discovering he has Type 2 diabetes.

Mark, 50, put himself forward for a health ‘road test’ after listening to a radio promotion about a day of free Mini NHS Health Checks at Templars Square in Cowley tomorrow (February 2).

He booked himself in to the Leys Health Centre on January 15 and a couple of blood tests confirmed Type 2 diabetes.

“I’ve started on medication now and the doctors have been brilliant getting it all sorted for me,” said Mark. “If I’m honest it’s all still very raw and I’m on a real learning curve.

“I would just urge everybody to go along and get the NHS Health Check done. You might be worried about something small but that something small could expand and becoming something bigger.”

Helping people live safe and healthy lives

NHS Health Checks are funded by Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team, which exists to improve the health of local people and protect them from preventable health issues – helping local residents live safe and healthy lives and play an active role in their communities.

As well as Type 2 diabetes, the free NHS Health Checks are designed to spot early warnings of stroke, kidney and heart disease, and dementia.

Since 2013 more than 190,000 health check invitations have been sent out in Oxfordshire, with 95,485 taking up the offer (50.4 per cent).

Over the same period nationally, NHS England said fewer than half of those eligible had taken up the invite – 7.15 million people from a possible 15 million.

Analysis of data collected in Oxfordshire shows a shortfall in men aged between 40 and 55, as well as those from ethnic minority groups.

‘I buried my head in the sand’

Mark, a forklift engineer, decided he should get himself checked out as he falls into that age category.

Looking back, he now realises he was wrong to have ignored a significant increase in fluid intake and the loss of a stone in weight.

He said: “Last summer I did start to get some odd symptoms. I was drinking an extra three to four litres a day but just put it down to the heatwave.

“It was one of the symptoms really that should have made me go and see someone and say ‘this isn’t right’. But I didn’t. I just buried my head in the sand.

“Then, as I was recovering from a shoulder operation, my weight dropped from 13st to 12st. I didn’t think weight loss was linked to diabetes.”

Mark is determined his diagnosis won’t change his outlook on life and he’s already joined a support group on Facebook, as well as planning changes to his diet.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve got a fantastic diet but it’s not a terrible diet,” he said. “I don’t drink alcohol to excess and I quit smoking three years ago, so I think I’m relatively ok.”

Mark enjoys riding his Yamaha MT-10 and has supported the H-Café Christmas Toy Run and Easter Egg Run motorbike convoys from Berinsfield to the John Radcliffe Hospital, as well as the Ride of Respect to honour fallen heroes.

Mini NHS Health Checks

Templars Square in Cowley is hosting a day of free Mini NHS Health Checks tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.

Anyone signing up will be entered into a raffle to win shopping centre vouchers worth £50 or a month’s free membership at the centre’s Feel Fit Gym, Oxford. All participants will also be given a day’s membership to the gym.

Lawrie Stratford, Cabinet member for Public Health, said: “These mini checks have been introduced in a bid to raise awareness of free NHS Health Checks as an important way to help the local community stay fit and healthy.

“Health checks are a brilliant way for people to get an overview of their general health and a fast, effective method of finding out if there are some simple things they could be doing to improve their long-term health and wellbeing.”

Get yourself checked out

Health checks are available to anyone aged between 40 and 74 who has not already been diagnosed with an existing cardiovascular condition.

Your GP surgery will automatically send out invitations once every five years, but if you haven’t had one, or didn’t respond to the invite, contact your surgery and make an appointment.

The full check will take around 20 minutes:

  • You will be asked some simple questions about your family history, whether or not you smoke and how much alcohol you drink
  • Your height, weight, sex, ethnicity and age will be recorded
  • Your blood pressure will be taken
  • A simple blood test will check your cholesterol level
  • Your body mass index (BMI) will be calculated. BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height.
  • Your level of risk of developing a cardiovascular condition (i.e. stroke, kidney and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia) will be calculated

The Mini NHS Health Checks at Templars Square will take about five minutes and feature all of the above except a blood test. Although the mini check is an excellent start to taking responsibility for your own health, the full check is the only way to properly assess your cardiovascular risk.

Every person will be given a traffic light warning grade. Red for danger – meaning a visit to your GP in the near future is strongly advised – amber for caution and green for low risk.

For further information about free NHS Health Checks visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/nhshealthcheck