Government plans to offer everyone aged 40-74 years a vascular health check have taken a bit of knock on suggestions that uptake of the programme is much slower than expected and that costs are rocketing.

A central initiative in the government’s push for disease prevention, the flagship scheme was first announced back in 2008 to much fanfare, on claims that it would prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes and potentially save 2,000 lives a year.

However, an investigation by Pulse Magazine, based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, has found that not only are far fewer people being screened than envisaged, but that the average cost of each screen has shot up to nearly £70, more than double the cost of a GP consultation (£38).

The cost of vascular screening was also found to vary widely across the country. NHS Hampshire, for example, has carried out less than 2,000 screens at an average cost of a whopping £720 each, while at the other end of the scale, NHS Blackburn with Darwen’s GP-led scheme has racked up 12,500 screens in eight months under its belt at an average expense of just £17.60 each.

In addition, according to Pulse, the Trusts for which it had information have shelled out £10 million on implementing the screening programme, which would equate to around £60 million across England, some way off the Department of Health’s forecast of costs of £31 million a year.