THE BIG Bolton Health Check is being rolled out across the country after proving a huge success.

Primary care trusts across the UK are now following Bolton’s example after tens of thousands of people had a free “health MOT”.

NHS Bolton launched the health check in April, 2008, with the aim of testing everyone aged over 45 in the borough, to find out if they were at risk of developing heart disease.

More than 73,000 people — 82 per cent of the over-45 population — had the simple check up to March last year, some 30,000 up on the figures for the two previous years.

The Bolton News supported the campaign, which identified more than 19,000 people at high risk of developing heart disease, 2,000 with signs of kidney disease and 900 with diabetes.

However, that success did not mark the end for the Big Bolton Health Check — health staff are continuing to target the over 45s and the scheme has been expanded to include 40 to 45-year-olds.

Bolton was among the first towns in the country to embark on the Government scheme.

Now every PCT in the country is required to start the checks on the over 40s by the end of March, completing the roll out by 2012/3.

The work in Bolton has been highlighted as an example of good practice and Dr Stephen Liversedge, who leads the team, was given an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his work, which included the scheme. Lesley Hardman, of NHS Bolton, said: “We are really ahead of the game, it is ground-breaking what we have done and we get calls every day from PCTs wanting to know how we did it.

“Any risks or disease we have found are being tackled, increasing people’s life expectancy.

“We are continuing to test the remaining over-45s and surgeries are now calling in the over-40s.

“It’s not going away, it wasn’t a one-off project but the beginning of a programme to not just work with people who are ill but support people to stay healthy.”

The check-up takes 10 minutes and includes a blood pressure check, blood test and a questionnaire on family history.

Anyone aged over 40 who has not had the test should contact their GP.

To support the check-ups the government is developing a website — — to advise people on looking after themselves.