NHS health checks to 'piggyback' on fire safety visits


Firefighters are to carry out health checks as the NHS seeks to "piggyback" on regular home-safety visits, the head of the health service in England has said.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said fire services' 670,000 home checks each year were a "golden opportunity" to relieve pressure on hospitals.

Fire crews would be expected to examine trip and fall hazards, ensure homes are heated and remind people about immunisations under the plan agreed with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).

The deal comes after accident and emergency departments faced sustained pressure last winter, with waiting time targets missed for 33 consecutive weeks from last September to May, while cold weather, along with flu, was blamed for the number of deaths during the period being up to a third higher than in previous years.

Mr Stevens told the Independent on Sunday: "The NHS has a golden opportunity to piggyback off the fire service's vital 670,000 home-safety visits, to help prevent falls, broken hips and hospital admissions.

"This is precisely the kind of joint working between local public services that makes sense for patients and saves money for taxpayers."

Peter Dartford, president of the CFOA, told the paper: "We get access across the threshold because the fire service is seen as non-threatening and trusted. We then engage with the householder, do a much broader range of assessments and refer on to Age UK to provide the services it can, such as benefits maximisation and long-term support."

Pilot schemes, funded by Public Health England, will run in Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire, according to the paper.