Less than half of people eligible for an NHS Health Check in England are currently getting one, prompting calls for better implementation of the programme.

Just 6.4% of people aged 40-74 years old underwent a health MOT check in the first nine months after local government took over its handling, significantly under the target of 11.25%, says Diabetes UK.

The charity's report also voices concern that in some regions there is a much lower proportion of offers for a check being accepted, and that many people identified as being at high risk of Type II diabetes are not offered any support to make healthy lifestyle changes and thus stave off the disease.

To help reach more patients, and thereby better identify those at risk of cardiovascular issues, it calls on those areas with low uptake to learn from those seeing higher acceptance rates for the Health Check, as well as for greater clarity on whose responsibility it is to deliver lifestyle support for those identified as being at high risk.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, stressed that the NHS Health Check "is one of the best new health initiatives this country has seen in recent years" with the potential to prevent thousands of cases of Type II diabetes and identify many undiagnosed ones.

“But it will only have the maximum benefit if everyone who is supposed to get a health check actually gets one but at the moment that is not happening," she argued, adding: “The potential benefit of the NHS Health Check for our nation’s health is too high for us not to get it right. 

However, opinion on the scheme divided. Officials claim that it could prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes, at least 650 premature deaths, and over 4,000 new cases of diabetes each year. 

But researchers from the Danish Cochrane centre found last year that health MOT's appeared to have no impact on either the number of overall deaths or those from cancer or heart disease, and Clare Gerada, ex chief of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has also said in the past that the checks are not based on good evidence.