​Stroke-busting health checks for Wandsworth

A new project to offer ‘Stroke Busting Health Checks’ to 1,000 people at greatest risk in Wandsworth has been announced at the HIN Innovation Awards.

It will increase detection of heart disease risk factors across the most deprived areas of the borough. In Wandsworth, nearly 2000 people have undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (one of the main risk factors for stroke) and 35,000 people have undiagnosed hypertension.

Dr Nicola Jones, Local GP and Chair of Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“The people of Wandsworth can look forward to a new and innovative local approach to stroke prevention. At the moment, over a third of people invited for a health check do not attend. We’re using this funding to kickstart an innovative new collaboration between Wandsworth community leaders and the health service, working hand-in-hand with local groups to get our services to those who need them most. By targeting hard-to-reach communities we will reduce health inequalities and we expect this award to be the first step in developing a new approach to screening that will benefit the communities we serve.”

Malik Gul, Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network, Wandsworth, said:

“Together, we’re bringing health checks into the community in a way that is unique and transformational. The approach unlocks the value and capabilities held in communities – in mosques, churches, temples, as well as in community groups and associations. This is a vital network of microsystems – the project is creating an innovative, emergent system that can offer the NHS new ways to make early health interventions more effective and work towards reducing health inequalities. Leadership has been essential – senior people across Wandsworth have been brave enough to say yes, we need change and yes, we’re ready to get behind this. Without strong collaborative and cross-sector leadership, the NHS would not be working in these new ways.”

This co-produced, community-led scheme will see the NHS partner closely with faith and community groups, led by Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network, to use mobile ECG devices to test people for irregular heart rhythms (a cause of stroke) and offer general health advice. The health checks will include heart rhythm checks using innovative mobile ECG devices, as well as diabetes testing, blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index. They will be an opportunity to talk about the risk of smoking, including the direct link to stroke.

It is widely recognised that hard to reach groups have greater health inequalities and poorer health outcomes, with Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities at substantially higher risk of poor health and early death, including due to stroke. Traditional NHS approaches aren’t working well enough – these communities are less likely to attend NHS health checks, despite being the most at risk. Therefore, this team is going to work in an innovative new way to go to these communities and work alongside local leaders to engage people.

In total, the project aims to perform at least 1,000 “Stroke Busting Health Checks” in hard-to-reach communities at high risk of stroke. Healthcare assistants from local GP practices will offer regular ‘Stroke Busting Health Checks’ in the community in places of worship including temples, mosques and churches.

To support the checks the team will also produce a film featuring local faith and community leaders encouraging Wandsworth residents to take up the checks.

The project is expected to increase awareness of stroke and cardiovascular disease as well as reduce the prevalence of stroke in the Borough. All those identified at risk of stroke through the checks will be supported to attend further tests and commence treatment. Faith and community leaders will be trained to support and encourage their communities to access additional services where needed, including registering with GPs.

Further information about mass screening can be found at the Health Innovation Network.

Pictured: Mass Screening – Malik Gul, Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network and Dr Karen Kee, Stroke Consultant and SWL Operational Lead for the NHSE NHS London Stoke Strategic Clinical Leadership Group, accepting the award from Kate Heaps, Chief Executive Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice