Well person screening
All permanent staff aged over 50 are eligible for a comprehensive health screen.
All permanent staff, aged 50 years and over, can have a comprehensive health screen provided by Occupational Health. Screening is provided free. This takes approximately 1.5 hours and includes a cardiovascular risk assessment, blood and urine tests as well as a hearing test. In addition bowel, and prostate cancer screening tests are carried out. Furthermore a general physical examination and ‘heart trace’ (ECG) will be completed by the doctor.
You will be seen by our experienced staff, who will advise in writing both you and your GP (with your consent) of your results, so any problems or concerns can be followed up by your GP as appropriate. All health information remains confidential. This programme compares favourably with similar assessments available with BUPA.
Well Person Tests
Cardiovascular risk assessment
The incidence of Coronary Heart disease increases significantly over the age of 50 years. Your lifestyle can influence your risk. We use a computerised screening package, which considers risk factors such as family history, weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol to determine your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years. This can demonstrate how changes in lifestyle can be a factor in reducing risk, while improving your overall health and well-being.
We also undertake a ‘heart trace’ (ECG). An ECG is a simple and useful diagnostic tool which records the rhythm and electrical activity of the muscular function of your heart. For the test small sticky patches are placed on your arms, legs and chest, which are subsequently connected by wires to an ECG recording machine to pick up the electrical signals that make your heart beat.
The outcome will be discussed with you and you can take the results home on the day. You will be recommended to visit your GP if any of your results are abnormal.
We will offer you blood tests to look for possible "silent" health problems, where early detection and prevention can help avoid damage. To benefit from discussing the results with the physician on the day of your appointment we recommend you arrange to attend for a fasting blood test i.e. no food or drink (other than water) for 12 hours before the test, 1-2 weeks prior to your appointment.
- Liver Function Test (LFT)
This is a routine blood test to help establish how healthy your liver is. For example, if you drink alcohol the LFT can determine if your alcohol intake is at a safe level or if it could harm your liver.
- Blood Count
A full blood count is used to evaluate your overall health and to detect for a wide range of disorders including anaemia and infection.
A complete blood count test measures several components and features of your blood, including:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
- White blood cells, which fight infection
- Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells
- Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in your blood
- Platelets, which help with blood clotting
Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts as revealed in a complete blood count may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluation.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
This test measures the thyroid hormone level in your blood to evaluate your thyroid function and to screen for possible thyroid disorders, such as an under or overactive thyroid gland. If your thyroid is not regulated, it can lead to problems such as weight gain and osteoporosis (thin bones).
Cholesterol is a waxy substance which is made in the body by the liver but is also found in some foods. It plays a vital role in how every cell works and is also needed to make Vitamin D, some hormones and bile for digestion. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of getting heart and circulatory diseases. We will use your cholesterol test results to calculate your cardiac risk score. If your cholesterol level is high, you will receive advice on how you can change your diet to overcome this. We may also recommend you consult your doctor for further checks and possible treatment.
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
There are two main forms of cholesterol, namely LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol is often referred to as "bad cholesterol" because too much is unhealthy. HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol” because it is protective. Knowing your levels of these can help explain your risk of heart disease and the results are used in conjunction with the cholesterol test for your heart disease assessment.
Triglycerides are a form of dietary fat found in meats, dairy produce and cooking oils in addition of being produced in the liver. Triglycerides are used for two purposes, namely they may be taken up by cells and tissues and used for energy or alternatively they may be stored as fat. Raised triglycerides often go hand in hand with low HDL and can therefore be linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people.
We will carry out a blood screen for glucose (sugar). Elevated blood glucose is indicative of diabetes. High blood sugar and diabetes may not cause symptoms in the early stages, but early diagnosis can instigate treatment so that possible future complications can be prevented.
Your urine will be tested for sugar and protein. Sugar (Glucose) in the urine can be a sign of diabetes mellitus. Protein can be an indication of infection, kidney disease or blood pressure problems. It is advisable to identify any problems early for your health in the long-term. When you arrive for your appointment we will ask you to provide a urine sample.
You will be asked to sit in an enclosed booth for your hearing test so that external noise can be excluded. The test will take about 10 minutes. To increase the accuracy of the test, we recommend you try to avoid exposure to loud noises (e .g. power-tools, iPods, noisy machinery) 3-4 days before your appointment as this can affect the results.
Bowel cancer screening
When you attend for your blood test, we will give you a kit containing a sample container for bowel cancer screening, along with detailed instructions for collection of the sample. In contrast to previous tests, you only need one faecal sample for this test, which is then returned to the lab in a sealed bottle in the prepaid envelope.
This test specifically measures the amount of human blood in your stool, (rather than any blood including blood in your diet). This can be early sign of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers of adults in the UK. Detection before the cancer has advanced and caused symptoms is likely to improve a person’s chance of cure.
This test, has become more specific with less incidence of false positives detection of blood. Blood can be present in a stool sample for many different reasons apart from cancer. Many people with a positive screening test will not have cancer. However, if you do have a positive test, you will be advised to see your GP for further assessments and possibly a specialist referral which may, if deemed necessary, require a colonoscopy (an examination of your bowels).
Conversely, a negative screening test result is not an absolute guarantee that a person does not have cancers, as not all cancers will leak blood. The chance of a ‘false negative’ result is reduced by testing for blood more than once. Studies suggest that screening is worthwhile for men and women over the age of 50 as it does reduce the overall risk of cancer. If you have a family history of early age bowel cancer, then your chance of developing the cancer may be higher. Many doctors strongly recommend annual screening tests if you have a relative with cancer.
For more information on the pros and cons of screening for bowel and other cancers please look at the Cancer Research UK website.
Prostate cancer screening
All men will be offered a blood test for Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. A raised PSA blood level may indicate cancer as the blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer before it produces any symptoms. However, this test is not 100% accurate and may give false-positive (the PSA level is elevated but no cancer is actually present) and false-negative results (the PSA level is low even though the person has actually had prostate cancer).
Anyone with a raised test result will need to arrange further blood and hospital tests with their GP to determine whether they do have early cancer. The benefit of detecting prostate cancer before it causes symptoms is less clear cut. Not everyone with cancer will become unwell as prostate cancer sometimes grows and spreads very slowly.
Most men with an elevated PSA level turn out not to have prostate cancer. Only about 25% of men (National Institute of Cancer) who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level actually have prostate cancer.
Testing is definitely considered worthwhile by most specialists if:
- A close relative has had prostate cancer
- You have symptoms of prostate disease, for example difficulty passing urine, needing to urinate more often at night, a reduction in the force of urine
If neither applies to you, the advice is that you weigh up the pros and cons yourself. You can find more information at Cancer Research UK.
With your consent, the doctor can carry out a prostate (rectal) examination. During the examination a chaperone will be present in the room if required.
With your consent the doctor can carry out a testicular examination. During the examination a chaperone will be present in the room if required.
Recent changes to the National Cervical Cytology service have resulted in challenges in providing “out of cycle” smear tests. We therefore no longer routinely undertake smear tests and strongly recommend you have a test when contacted by your local health authority. This screening is more specific and tests for signs of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection - which is the cause of cervical cancer, if HPV is detected the lab will then test for cell changes. The NHS screening programme will ensure that if there are signs of infection or cell changes you will be in the system for appropriate follow up. If it has been more than 5 years since you had a test and you have not been recalled you should discuss this with your GP to be reinstated on the screening programme.
All women aged 50 to 64 years, who have been sexually active at any time in their life, are recommended to have a smear test at least every 5 years.
With your consent the doctor can carry out a vaginal examination. This allows her to check your womb and ovaries for problems. If you wish she will also take your smear test as part of the examination. During the examination a chaperone will be present in the room.
Breast cancer is a common cause of cancer in women. A breast lump or changes in the shape or appearance of the breast can indicate cancer. It is important that any cancer is detected early to increase the chances of successful treatment.
With your consent, the doctor will examine your breasts for any signs of disease and discuss with you the changes you should be aware of as early warning signs.
You will be advised to participate in the NHS Breast Cancer screening program through your GP.
During your consultation, the physician will be happy to discuss your concerns. In the meantime you can find out more about pros and cons of breast screening at NHS Breast Screening.