North Kirklees smokers to get free lung checks

Free health checks are being offered to smokers in some areas of North Kirklees.
Free health checks are being offered to smokers in some areas of North Kirklees.

High risk smokers in North Kirklees are to benefit from a £4.5million targeted lung health check scheme, designed to identify a range of health problems and speed up access to potentially life-saving treatment.

People aged between 55 and 74, who currently smoke or who have ever smoked, will be offered a free lung health check in the community close to their home, along with access to specialist stop smoking advice and appropriate follow-up, including CT scanning, if needed.

One of 10 NHS England schemes being launched around the country, North Kirklees is part of the £70million national Targeted Lung Health Checks project – one of the first to be rolled-out following the recent publication of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The Plan sets out an ambition that by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 – at which point treatment leading to cure is more likely - will have risen from the current 50 per cent of patients to 75 per cent. The lung health check programme is part of how NHS England is planning to deliver the required improvements.

Lung cancer kills more people in West Yorkshire than any other cancer, with high levels of the disease diagnosed at late stage. There is now robust evidence that earlier diagnosis can be effectively encouraged through a combination of targeted lung health checks in high risk areas, public awareness, clinician education and better access to diagnostic testing.

Funding for the North Kirklees scheme will be provided to the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, which will be formally accountable to NHS England for the delivery of the project. It will be led at local level by North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, working with local partners Public Health colleagues at Kirklees Council.

Professor Sean Duffy, Clinical Lead with the WYH Cancer Alliance, welcomed the additional investment in North Kirklees and encouraged all those targeted for the health check to take up the invitation.

“The lung health check schemes bring huge benefits in spotting a wide range of illnesses, including bronchitis and emphysema – not just cancer – and it’s an opportunity to access support, advice and potentially treatment much earlier than might otherwise be the case.

“We understand that it’s not always easy or convenient for people to access health services, which is why these checks will be delivered on the doorstep, in local communities, close to home. It’s a great opportunity for people to get checked out and take advantage of the free service.”

Dr David Kelly, GP and Chair of North Kirklees CCG, said: ‘Being included in this project is really great news. It means that people who are most at risk can be offered checks and will be able to get help earlier if they need it. Early detection of lung conditions means that NHS treatment is more likely to be successful. After today’s confirmation, we look forward to working with our partners on the detailed plans for the project, to ensure we bring maximum benefit to those people who are targeted.”

Coun Musarrat Khan, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, said: “We are hugely committed to helping people in Kirklees stay well for as long as possible. We strongly encourage people to take advantage of the free lung check programme – early diagnosis can save lives.”