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The Rise & Rise of the Health Check - Why now?

The announcement by John Lewis in November last year, of Health Check services in their stores, is another sign in the growth of the proactive healthcare sector.

It is a significant contributor to the boom in private healthcare since the Covid pandemic. The number of self-paying patients has risen sharply, by over 30%, current figures say.

Traditionally, these services have been offered by independent hospitals, with a common perception that they are only accessible to the higher earners or those in private schemes. Their tiered ranges of health checks cost from hundreds to thousands of pounds & may include imaging such as MRI scans.

The offering, provided by Randox at John Lewis’s, ranges between £295 and £3900.

Other providers, such as Bluecrest, specialise solely in providing health checks. They are primarily blood test based, but also include other tests. Their prices range from £149 to £449.

Many private GP’s also offer bespoke health assessments.

Alternative services, such as Medichecks, provide more targeted assessments, such as blood-tests. A wide range of conditions and checks can be diagnosed, with doctors’ advice included in the price, which typically ranges between £39 and £249.

A patient having a Carotid Artery Ultrasound
A Carotid Artery assessment is part of LCL Ultrasounds Health Check

Locally, a recent addition to this sector,

LCL Ultrasound, provides an extensive ultrasound health check of the body and blood supply to the brain for £250. Spencer Laver, their CEO, has noticed a significant increase in demand for their service.

Spencer remarked: “Since introducing the Ultrasound Health Check last year, it has become our most popular service. We have picked up a wide range of conditions, some needing urgent hospital referral, to others that just require simple lifestyle changes”.

But why are so many people turning to health checks in the first place?

“The NHS has only so much money to spend on screening. It focusses on conditions such as breast cancer, aortic aneurysm checks and FIT tests (faecal testing). These are offered dependant on a person’s sex and at specific ages”. Says Spencer.

A patient having an abdominal ultrasound exam
A Scan of The Abdomen & Renal Tract is also part of LCL's Health Check

He added: “People appear to be deciding this is not enough. They are choosing to be more proactive with their health and are willing to pay for early diagnosis and prevention”.

Much of the current advice provided by the healthcare community is concerned with preventing illness. Leading a healthier life is better for you and cheaper for the NHS, we are told. It appears that more people are going down this route and are willing to pay for it themselves.

Spencer suggested a simple comparison people are making with other annual checks:

“We pay for annual dental checks and eye tests. What about the rest of our body? We often spend more on our car’s annual MOT than our own health”

“The NHS is great at saving lives and helping patients to recover when they fall ill, but most people don’t want to be a patient in the first place”. Says Spencer.

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