One in 10 United fans shown health check 'red card'

The results are in for Oxford United fans who received a free health MOT on matchday last month – and it’s fair to say some of the faithful may not be quite as fighting fit as their on-field heroes.

A total of 248 supporters took advantage of an NHS mini health-check at the recent home game against Oldham, as part of an awareness-raising exercise by Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team.

Just 10 per cent were given the green-light, meaning no follow-up action was recommended. A further 80 per cent received an ‘amber’ rating and 10 per cent were shown the ‘red card’ – meaning a follow-up GP appointment was strongly advised.

The ratings were based on blood pressure readings and Body Mass index (BMI) figures recorded during the mini-tests.

Full NHS checks are available for everyone aged from 40 to 74 without pre-existing conditions. They are provided by GP surgeries and are aimed at identifying a person’s risk from heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke and dementia over the next 10 years. They are free and last just 20-30 minutes.

Positive discussions

The council's Cabinet Member of Public Health and Education Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “We’re delighted with the level of engagement and participation from the Oxford fans, some of whom may now have some extra motivation to focus a bit more on their long-term health.

"We had some really positive discussions about weight management, stopping smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity, and where concerns were raised, most people said they would follow up with their GP.”

She added: “Promoting free health checks on matchday is a fantastic way to reach people who have yet to take up the offer. Statistically we know that men are less likely to make an appointment, and matchday provides an opportunity to reach a key target audience in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. We were really pleased that 75 per cent of fans who got themselves checked were men.”



Ricardinho receives the Player of the Match award from Cllr Hibbert-Biles










Director gets involved

Oxford United Managing Director Niall McWilliams led by example prior to the game, by taking a mini-health check himself.

He said: “As we get older becoming aware of our health is essential. Taking steps to educate ourselves about keeping fit and healthy is imperative. Men, especially, can be reticent about their physical health but to achieve a good quality of life it is crucial to take up the NHS Health Check offered by your GP Practice."

Staff from the council’s Public Health team also gave out health check leaflets to 2,000 fans, 300 contact sheets with useful health service contact numbers and 750 booklets on ‘healthy choices’.

More fans took part in the recent mini-health checks than on the previous two occasions the council has run the initiative at the Kassam Stadium (140 and 213).

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