TEMPLARS Square manager Owen Acland is exactly the type of person that health chiefs are targetting with a free NHS Health Check.

The shopping centre boss falls into the category of men aged between 40 and 55 who have so far neglected to sign up for the potential lifesaver.

In a bid to raise awareness the council will be holding a day of free Mini NHS Health Checks on Saturday, February 2, from 10am to 4pm at Templars Square in Cowley.

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The initiative aims to highlight the health checks as an important way to help the local community stay fit and healthy.

The free NHS Health Checks are designed to spot early warnings of stroke, kidney and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia.

Mr Acland, 46, has been centre manager at Templars Square for three years.

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He goes to the gym most weekday mornings and enjoys long walks at the weekend, listing Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and Peak District among his favourite destinations.

He doesn’t eat fried foods and drinks alcohol in moderation, all of which adds up to his reasoning for never signing up for an NHS Health Check.

A blood pressure test showed no cause for alarm but Mr Acland said he would now be following it up with a full check to ensure that blood test results were equally positive.

"Obviously I’ve been to the doctors on the odd occasion but I’ve never been for a proper ‘road test’," he said.

"I think I’m in reasonably good health so it has never crossed my mind to be honest.

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"But I appreciate I’m in that age group now where I probably ought to follow it up.

"Not everybody perhaps can be as active as they would like, so getting checked out to head off any problems that you might have is a really good thing to do."

Since 2013 more than 190,000 health check invitations have been sent out in Oxfordshire, with 95,485 taking up the offer (50.4 per cent).

Over the same period nationally, NHS England said fewer than half of those eligible had taken up the invite.

Analysis of data collected in Oxfordshire shows a shortfall in men aged between 40 and 55, as well as those from ethnic minority groups.

Dr Eunan O’Neill, public health consultant at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’ve actually done reasonably well compared to figures nationally, but we’re not being complacent.

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“We’ve identified there’s a definite drop in those two groups and now we’re going to go and find out why.

“In the summer we carried out some detailed analysis of data from the past five years. Having identified those men aged between 40 and 55, it’s really important we reach out to them. It’s an opportunity to look at people who are more at risk of cardiovascular problems.

“Women have always been encouraged to talk about their health issues. Men tend to ignore the symptoms until they are physically impacting on their own health.

“It’s trying to figure out how we can get people to think about the benefits of an NHS Health Check and helping us spot early warnings of stroke, kidney and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia.”

The Mini NHS Health Checks will be available at Templars Square on February 2 from 10am to 4pm. Anyone signing up will be entered into a raffle to win shopping centre vouchers worth £50 or a month’s free membership at the centre’s Feel Fit Gym.

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While the full health checks take around 20 minutes, the mini tests will take just five and include questions into family history, whether or not you smoke and how much alcohol you drink. Height, weight, sex, ethnicity and age will be recorded, blood pressure will be taken and body mass index (BMI) will be calculated.

All this will allow the risk of developing a cardiovascular condition (i.e. stroke, kidney and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia) to be calculated.

Every person will be given a traffic light warning grade. Red for danger – meaning a visit to your GP in the near future is strongly advised – amber for caution and green for low risk.

Mr Acland added: “We’ll have a good number of people coming through our doors so it’s a great chance for them to take five minutes out of their day’s shopping and get checked out.

“A lot of people like me don’t make the effort to go and seek these things out, but if it’s given to them where they can easily take part while they’re out and about shopping or just visiting friends they’re more likely to stop and get checked out.”

For more information about free health checks visit: oxfordshire.gov.uk/nhshealthcheck