Wales politics

£1m health check used by just 1% of over-50s, Tories say

Add To Your Life website

More than £1m has been wasted on an online health check scheme used by just 1% of those it was aimed at, the Welsh Conservatives have claimed.

The party accused Labour of a "massive climb-down" on a 2011 promise of annual health checks by GPs for the over-50s.

Tory AM Darren Millar said the Add To Your Life self-assessment scheme should be scrapped as a "complete folly".

The Welsh Government said "lessons learnt" from the programme would form part of a review of health advice.

The survey, accessible via computer, phone and tablet, was launched in April 2014 to give people an overall picture of their health and well-being, and to suggest better lifestyle choices.

The Tories said answers to their written questions showed that 12,939 people had completed the survey in the following 23 months, out of a population of 1,177,000 over-50s in Wales,

"The paltry take-up figures will only add to existing public anger over Labour's broken manifesto promise to deliver annual GP health checks to all of Wales' over-50s," said Mr Millar, who tabled the questions when he was shadow health minister.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Public Health Wales is reviewing its approach to promoting healthier lifestyles

He claimed many older people lacked the digital skills to use the service, while the Welsh Conservatives' current health spokesperson, Angela Burns, highlighted poor phone and internet connections in rural areas..

"People aged over 50 are vulnerable to a number of health concerns from cancer and high blood pressure to diabetes and arthritis," she said.

"It's plain as day that the scheme has been an abject failure and future funding for its continuation should instead be diverted to GP recruitment and retention initiatives."

A Welsh Government spokesperson defended the scheme as an "innovative approach", saying start-up costs were relatively high but running costs only £70,000 in 2015-16.

On the numbers using the service, the spokesperson said other people were being helped by charity and voluntary organisations using it as the basis for group discussions on health and lifestyle.

"Evidence suggests that providing tailored health information to the public is more effective than other approaches," the spokesperson added.

"Public Health Wales is reviewing its approach to providing information for the public with a view to better supporting people to take more control of their own health and wellbeing.

"The lessons learnt from Add to Your Life are forming a key part of that review."

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