Summary of report content
Healthwatch Norfolk undertook research into whether people were able to act on messages to improve their chances of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). They asked over 800 local people about the non-pharmaceutical interventions they access, or have accessed, in the community to manage the physical lifestyle risk factors associated with long term disease. They also engaged with over 100 participants who attend rehabilitation and exercise classes (phase 3 and phase 4 cardiac rehabilitation) to find out how people with established CVD are supported so that their quality of life might be improved.
Healthwatch collected comments about the NHS health check – in particular to find out if those eligible are accessing their check and if not, why not. We were also interested in finding out the sort of advice health practitioners were offering during a consultation or routine appointment and how useful patients perceive it to be. They found that in order to make every contact count, brief messages about diet should be more concise, levels of physical activity better identified and more referrals made to community providers or exercise referral schemes.
The findings also suggest that phase 3 and phase 4 cardiac rehabilitation both have very distinctive roles to play in supporting individuals to make healthy changes to their lifestyle and maintain them, and that national programmes and providers, whilst offering interventions that reach a higher proportion of the local population, may increase rather than reduce socio-economic and gender inequalities.
There are 6 recommendations about involving pharmacies in encouraging people to take up health checks, the content of routine health checks, how routine health checks could be made more accessible to working age men; how service provision should be evaluated and the need for further research.