Life-saving lung health check rolls out in east and north Hertfordshire

Published: 14 March 2024

The Targeted Lung Health Check logo with an illustration of lungs.
The Targeted Lung Health Check logo

Current and ex-smokers in parts of east and north Hertfordshire are now being invited to have a free lung health check as part of a national programme.

Current and ex-smokers in parts of east and north Hertfordshire are now being invited to have a free lung health check as part of a national programme.

The Targeted Lung Health Check is open to people aged 55 to 74, who smoke or have ever smoked and are registered with one of 14 GP practices taking part in the programme.

Organisations including Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB), GP practices and East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust have come together to deliver the programme.

Dr Jane Halpin, Hertfordshire and West Essex Chief Executive, said: “The Targeted Lung Health Check programme is a fantastic way of spotting the very early signs of cancer, a time when it is most treatable. In its early stages lung cancer rarely has symptoms which means three in four patients are diagnosed late.

“The Targeted Lung Health Checks can also pick up on other lung health conditions so people can be assessed and treated sooner. The checks are free and could literally save your life.”

Eligible patients will receive a letter inviting them to arrange an appointment where they will discuss their lung health and smoking history. If the team thinks the patient would benefit from a low-dose CT scan, they will be invited for one at a convenient local location, along with a face-to-face appointment with a nurse. If the patient needs further investigation they will be referred on for more tests, whether it is cancer or not. All results of tests will be shared with patients’ GPs and remain on their hospital records for future reference.

For now, the programme is only available at the 14 GP practices identified as having a higher number of patients who currently smoke or are ex-smokers. Letters are being sent out to eligible patients over the period of several weeks.

It is hoped the programme will roll out to other parts of Hertfordshire and west Essex in the future and by 2029, become part of a national programme.

If you or someone you know receives a letter inviting them for a free Targeted Lung Health Check, do encourage them to make an appointment as soon as possible.

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme is the biggest programme in health service history to improve early lung cancer diagnosis. More than one million people across the country have been invited for a free check, with three-quarters of cancers found caught at the earliest stages when chances of survival are higher.

The lung health checks can spot the signs of lung cancer even before a patient has symptoms, but if someone has the symptoms below it is important they make an appointment with their GP as soon as possible:

  • a cough that does not go away after three weeks
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  • chest infections that keep coming back
  • coughing up blood
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

The checks also help find other undiagnosed respiratory conditions, which means these patients can get treatment quicker.

Visit the Targeted Lung Health Check programme website for more information.