The raincloud that had a life-saving lining

Published Monday, 12th October 2015

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A SOUTHEND woman’s decision to shelter from the rain while out shopping by taking advantage of a free NHS health check may well have saved her life.

As part of the free check, it was revealed 55-year-old Linda Deary’s blood sugar levels were sky high. The nurse from community healthcare provider, Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE), the organisation commissioned by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to provide the mobile health checks, said Linda should see her GP without delay.

She was told by her GP that if she hadn’t visited the unit she could have dropped down dead at any point as her results were so high.

A bemused but very grateful Linda said this week: “It was quite unbelievable really. I’d been shopping and it started raining heavily. I still had plenty of time left on my parking ticket and saw the ACE mobile unit so thought I would shelter from the rain by having a free health check.

“When the nurse saw my blood sugar level, she said it was the highest reading she had ever seen and that I should contact my GP immediately. I went home and called my GP surgery. At first, they could not see me for a few days but when I told them the results of my NHS health check, they said could I be there in one hour! My GP sent me to the hospital for further tests and when I was called back by my GP, I was told I was in effect a ticking time-bomb who could have dropped dead at any moment.

“The scary thing is I felt perfectly well in myself and had no symptoms. I swim six days a week, ride horses and eat healthily. If I hadn’t decided to take advantage of that free NHS health check, it’s possible I wouldn’t be here today. I’m so grateful to the team from ACE. That check was the best 15 minutes time I’ve ever invested and I’d certainly recommend anyone to have that check. It’s free so what have you got to lose. As it turned out, I had my life to gain,” said Linda.

She is now on medication to bring down her sugar levels and has also been referred for an eye scan and a thyroid biopsy.

Cllr James Moyies, Executive Cllr for Health and Adult Social Care said: “This is a great story showing how important these simple routine tests are. They can flag up issues which may not now show any outward symptoms at all, but could develop into something more serious in future.  In this instance, a potentially life-threatening blood sugar level has been bought down by medication thanks to a free NHS health check.

“I would urge anyone over 40 years old to take the check and I hope this story convinces people to do so.”

ACE has delivered 1,100 free NHS health checks in Southend since April 2015. Staff target people between the ages of 40 and 74 who, broadly, are not already identified by a health professional as having had a heart attack, stroke, angina or diabetes.  They should also not be on medicines for high cholesterol or high blood pressure as these people have already been screened by their GP and are being monitored regularly.

The check includes measurement of blood cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and waist measurement. A risk calculation is carried out and personalised advice offered about how to stay healthy. All results are given to people at the time of their health check screen as well as shared with their GP practice.

Where people are referred to their GP from a health check, ACE does a follow-up phone call a month later to check they have been to their GP.

Kerry-may Surtees, Integrated Care Manager Health & Wellbeing at ACE, said: “The check assesses your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease or diabetes. By taking early action, people can improve their health and make lifestyle changes to help prevent the onset of these conditions.

“Linda’s case shows just how important the check is. I would urge anyone eligible for the check to spare a few minutes out of their day and take advantage of something which might just be a life-saver.”

Appointments for the free NHS health check can be made but are not essential. To find out when the mobile unit is next in your vicinity, please telephone 0800 022 4524.