Tens of thousands of people in Southend have missed out on a vital health check which spots early signs of several life-threatening conditions.

Adults aged between 40 and 74 in England should be invited for an NHS health check-up by their local authority every five years.

The check is designed to spot risk factors and early symptoms of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.

Public Health England estimates that there are 50,200 people in Southend who were eligible for the check in the five years to June 2019.

Of these, just 45.1 per cent attended an appointment during that time – meaning 27,500 went without.

However, the figures show at least 6,007 of them were never sent an invite in the first place.

They joined 10 million others across England who also did not have an appointment.

Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said it was extremely concerning so many were not benefiting from the check, putting them at risk of suffering the "devastating and costly complications" of diabetes in the future.

She said: "If left undiagnosed, diabetes can lead to sight loss, amputations, stroke and kidney failure, but these free, 15-minute health checks can help prevent the onset of the condition, pick up people who are undiagnosed and help to keep them healthy."

Davinia Green, head of prevention at the Stroke Association, added: "When stroke strikes, lives change in an instant.

"It is important that people know their risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation, blood pressure and cholesterol – three big risk factors for stroke that the NHS health checks look for."

Councils are legally required to try to improve the uptake rate each year.

In Southend, the take-up rate has fallen to a for the second consecutive year.

Of the people invited for a test between April and June this year, 35.8 per cent took up the offer, compared to 53.9 cent during the same period in 2017-18.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said councils wanted to do more to improve uptake, particularly among high risk groups, but warned more money was needed.

He said: "Every pound invested by government in council-run services can relieve pressure on other essential services like the NHS and save much more money further down the line."

Jamie Waterall, national lead for the NHS Health Check at Public Health England, said: "The number of people attending an NHS Health Check during the first quarter of this year, from April to June, is up 10% on the same period last year - the highest it has ever been since 2015/16.

"The check is quick and easy, providing a world leading prevention programme, and years of ill health and thousands of lives may have been saved."