Templars Square manager urges local community to come along for a free Mini NHS Health Check

Health checks video 1

Templars Square manager Owen Acland is exactly the type of person health chiefs are keen to target with a free NHS Health Check.

The shopping centre boss falls into the category of men aged between 40 and 55 who have neglected to sign up for the potential lifesaver.

But all that is about to change as Templars Square in Cowley hosts a day of free Mini NHS Health Checks on Saturday, February 2, from 10am to 4pm. The initiative has been introduced in a bid to raise awareness of NHS Health Checks as an important way to help the local community stay fit and healthy.

And with two great prizes on offer to tempt shoppers into undergoing the mini checks, health chiefs hope to raise awareness with the missing 50 per cent of the county who have so far resisted signing up to the full check at their GP surgery.

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.

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

‘Never crossed my mind’

Owen, 46, has been centre manager at Templars Square for three years. He goes to the gym most weekday mornings and enjoys long walks at the weekend, listing Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and Peak District among his favourite destinations.

He doesn’t eat fried foods and drinks alcohol in moderation, all of which adds up to his reasoning for never signing up for an NHS Health Check.

A blood pressure test showed no cause for alarm but Owen said he would now be following it up with a full check to ensure that blood test results are equally as positive.

“Obviously I’ve been to the doctors on the odd occasion but I’ve never been for a proper ‘road test’,” said Owen. “I think I’m in reasonably good health so it has never crossed my mind to be honest.

“But I appreciate I’m in that age group now where I probably ought to follow it up. Not everybody perhaps can be as active as they would like, so getting checked out to head off any problems that you might have is a really good thing to do.”

Prizes to be won

Mini NHS Health Checks will be available at Templars Square on February 2 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.

Owen said: “Saturdays are generally our busiest day. We’ll have a good number of people coming through our doors so it’s a great chance for them to take five minutes out of their day’s shopping and get checked out.

“A lot of people like me don’t make the effort to go and seek these things out, but if it’s given to them where they can easily take part while they’re out and about shopping or just visiting friends they’re more likely to stop and get checked out.

“Who knows, they might uncover something that they need to do something about.

“We’re very much a part of the community and our audience includes a lot of people over the age of 40. It’s a good proportion of our customers so this is a perfect fit.”

Shortfall in two groups

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.

Dr Eunan O’Neill, Public Health Consultant at the county council, said: “We’ve actually done reasonably well compared to figures nationally. But we’re not being complacent.

“We’ve identified there’s a definite drop in those two groups and now we’re going to go and find out why.

“In the summer we carried out some detailed analysis of data from the past five years. Having identified those men aged between 40 and 55, it’s really important we reach out to them. It’s an opportunity to look at people who are more at risk of cardiovascular problems.

“Women have always been encouraged to talk about their health issues. Men tend to ignore the symptoms until they are physically impacting on their own health.

“It’s trying to figure out how we can get people to think about the benefits of an NHS Health Check and helping us spot early warnings of stroke, kidney and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia.”

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.

Dr O’Neill said: “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.”

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