Case study: NHS Health Checks


NHS Health Checks are opportunistic check-ups that eligible adults in England aged 40 – 74 can receive every five years. They are designed to detect early signs of serious yet preventable cardiovascular conditions such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

This preventative approach to health is vital to reducing pressure on already overstretched critical health services, as well as the staggering annual cost of treating preventable illnesses.

NHS Health Checks have also been written into the COVID-19 Recovery Plan as a means of continuing to address the health inequalities that affect those on whom both COVID-19 and common cardiovascular diseases have a disproportionate effect.

The problem 

The UK Health Security Agency, in partnership with local authorities, aims to invite 20% of the eligible population for a health check each year, achieving 10% uptake from that (although amended targets were agreed at a local level as a result of COVID-19). The uptake target is between 6,000-7,000 eligible adults in Richmond upon Thames and between 7,000-8,000 in Wandsworth.

The broad audience is adults in Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth between 40 and 74 years old who have not had an NHS Health Check in the past five years and do not have any pre-existing health conditions. Within that group, we needed to prioritise cohorts at higher risk of experiencing a serious cardiovascular event or long-term condition. These include:

  • People from ethnic minority backgrounds (13.10% and 29.04% of this age population in Richmond and Wandsworth respectively);
  • People from more deprived communities;
  • People who are overweight or obese;
  • People who smoke, consume high amounts of alcohol, are largely inactive and have similar behavioural risk factors.

Uptake for NHS Health Checks is low for the following reasons:

  • COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the availability of GP appointments
  • Lack of understanding around the importance of health checks and the big long-term impact small preventative measures can have
  • Misconception of how long each appointment takes/how involved it is.

Ultimate aim: to achieve as close to the 10% uptake targets in each borough as possible.

The solution

Campaign content and creative thinking largely fell under two themes:

  • Explanation: Appealing to people’s logic with easy-to-understand information demonstrating exactly what a health check is and what it’s good for, in terms they can relate to.
  • This is about you. Answering the crucial question of what’s actually in it for me? by exploring why it is in a person’s best interest to get checked, appealing to both their logical and emotional sides to drive action.

In order to generate a cut-through with the audience and revive engagement with this frequently talked-about topic, we took an approach beyond traditional communications. We achieved this through the following:

  • Commissioning Westco to develop visual assets, capturing our strategic goals and designed in a way tried and tested to grab and hold the attention of our target audience.
  • Partnering with the Council Advertising Network (CAN) to run highly targeted programmatic advertising in both boroughs.
  • Working with a local GP (Dr Lucinda Dawson, The Vineyard Surgery) to film a short video, to be used alongside the other creative assets, encouraging residents to get a health check.
  • Creating an animation clearly detailing exactly what a health check involves and who is eligible. Both this and the above-mentioned video are housed on both council websites and used across digital communications.
  • Refreshing the landing pages on both Council websites, hyperlinking to each participating GP practice and community pharmacy’s site so all residents viewing from their smartphones would need to do is click and call to schedule an appointment.
  • Running creative content and messaging across the Council’s digital channels (relevant community newsletters, social media, email marketing, etc.).
  • Including promotional insert in the annual council tax bill mailout for Richmond Council and taking out ad space in Wandsworth’s Brightside Magazine.
  • Creating a set of printed materials to be displayed where we know our audience(s) will be (i.e. faith communities, community centres, housing estates, noticeboards in areas of high traffic, local pharmacies, etc.).

The results

Below is a high-level overview of the engagement we achieved from 1 April to 31 May:

  • Over 1.2 million impressions (digital views or engagements) across digital platforms
  • Nearly 120,000 interactions with content (clicks, swipe-ups, likes, shares, video views over 10 seconds)
  • 14,700 clicks to webpage links via programmatic ads
  • Over 600 clicks to webpage links from organic content via trackable links (this doesn't take things like newsletters into account)
  • 9.70% interaction rate (above the industry average)
  • 1.19% click-through rate (double the industry average)
  • Over 30k views to two videos on Richmond and Wandsworth YouTube channels (about 15k each)

An in-depth report on programmatic engagement is provided, which breaks data down by such factors as ad placement, geography, age, device type, etc.

The use of programmatic advertising also made it possible for us to see the key search words/phrases that led people using a search engine to our ads. We have been able to monitor the volume of commonly searched items (such as ‘symptoms of diabetes’) and use this insight to target specific prevention-related messaging to our wider audience.

We saw this engagement convert to the following:

  • By the end of Q1 2022-23, the number of health checks appointments made at participating practices in Wandsworth was already 60% of those made in the whole of 2021-22 (22.4% of the annual target), very nearly bringing the borough back to pre-COVID-19 uptake.
  • Richmond saw a 331% increase in health checks delivered in Q1 compared to the previous year.
  • Three times the number of health checks delivered to people deemed high priority.

Here is a quote from the client about what was achieved:

“The NHS Health Checks Relaunch and Restore programmes of work, supported by Richmond Council’s Communications Team and Westco has had demonstrable outcomes for the NHS Health Checks programme. Performance during quarter one 2022-23 was 331% higher compared with the same time point last year; 952 more Health checks were completed than 2021-22. The Q1 figures are comparable with pre-COVID 19 performances. This was the highest performing quarter in two-years. This means more residents are accessing public health services, supporting work to prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the population and increase awareness of dementia.”

Benjamin Humphrey Senior Public Health Lead Adult Social Care and Public Health


Through this campaign, we have been able to demonstrate that there is power in providing people with the encouragement and agency to take control of their own health and making it incredibly easy for them to do so.

We were able to achieve this with:

  • The use of a strong creative concept, with a look and feel that’s able to break through the influx of content across social media.
  • A strong programmatic advertising campaign that reaches our target audience exactly where they get their content.
  • Messaging that encourages a proactive stance toward individual health, working in partnership with the health system to achieve positive outcomes, rather than wait to be contacted or until something feels wrong.


Ian Farrow, Managing Director



We saw a 331% increase in health checks delivered in Q1 compared to the previous year.

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