NHS Health Checks: West Sussex

West Sussex County Council works with a range of providers to deliver the NHS Health Check programme across the county. This includes offering checks in community settings such as libraries, village halls, workplaces and high-street hubs, as well as in clinical settings.

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The challenge and response 

The total population eligible for an NHS Health Check in West Sussex is one of the largest in England. NHS Health Checks are offered through four different strands: 

  • GP practices 
  • Pharmacies
  • Prevention and Assessment Teams – healthcare professionals in outreach settings 
  • West Sussex Wellbeing – the county’s integrated health improvement programme. 

GP practices conduct the majority of NHS Health Checks, with more than 50 practices signed up to the programme. A small but significant number of community pharmacies also deliver them – generally larger pharmacies with a dedicated space where they can hold clinics. This tends to be in areas where GP provision is not as extensive, with pharmacies providing this service to help ensure there is full geographical coverage. Where a GP surgery and pharmacy are co-located, the surgery might send out the invitations and the pharmacy conducts the checks. 

Outreach provision 

West Sussex provides NHS Health Checks in outreach settings through two services. The first is the Prevention and Assessment Teams (PATs) – multi-agency, multidisciplinary teams delivering a preventative service for vulnerable adults and older people. These teams include community-based nurses who offer NHS Health Checks as an add-on service. 

Rebecca Howells, Public Health Lead for West Sussex, said: “The PAT nurses are clinical staff working in non-clinical settings such as libraries and community centres. For service users it’s a trusted space and a trusted individual delivering the NHS Health Check.” 

Outreach provision also takes place through West Sussex Wellbeing, the county-wide integrated health improvement programme. Each district and borough has its own wellbeing team, funded in partnership with the county council, to provide services such as smoking cessation, weight management and alcohol advice. They also offer NHS Health Checks, which are carried out by non-clinical staff in non-clinical settings.

Each wellbeing team uses local knowledge and determinants to provide services in areas where there are high levels of health inequalities. The setting may be a permanent wellbeing hub location or a temporary hired space. In Horsham, for example, there is a permanent hub in a retail unit in the town’s main shopping centre. In Crawley, the team works from the large leisure centre and also uses a mobile unit to visit different locations. 

Other areas might hire a space for the provision of services and provide NHS Health Checks at the same time, or use community centres or libraries. Workplace provision is also offered. 

One additional benefit of offering NHS Health Checks through the wellbeing teams is that they also provide health improvement services as part of their integrated approach. As a result of the NHS Health Check they can directly support people to access programmes such as weight management, physical activity, smoking cessation and alcohol advice. These services are often delivered by the same staff, in many cases in the same locations – reducing some of the potential engagement barriers or anxiety. 

If anything comes up during an NHS Health Check that is of immediate medical concern, wellbeing staff are trained to refer that individual straight to the right healthcare service. NHS Health Check results are, with the client’s consent, sent to their GP practice.  

Looking ahead 

Rebecca Howells said that through this mix of services, West Sussex offers every tier and variation of clinical and non-clinical provision of NHS Health Checks. “This is a large county with a lot of rural communities. You can’t expect people to travel far for an NHS Health Check, so we have a number of different providers to ensure there is good coverage across the county. There will still be some gaps, due to other pressures on community providers, but we regularly review the situation to make sure we are meeting the needs of our residents.” 

Care is taken to coordinate provision. The providers work together to make sure there is not, for example, a GP surgery, pharmacy and library all offering NHS Health Checks on the same day in the same place. 

“Our GP practices have a permanent presence in the community, and that’s where most people think to go for an NHS Health Check. Our other providers reach people who would not necessarily engage with their GP practice. We see fewer people through these providers but the quality of those interactions is high, and they pick up health issues that wouldn’t otherwise have been addressed.” 


For further information contact Rebecca Howells, Public Health Lead: [email protected]