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Changes to the Healthy Kids Check: will we get it right?

Are we at risk of over-medicalising and under-researching?

In 2011, the Australian Government announced plans to change the voluntary Healthy Kids Check (HKCheck) during 2012–2013,1 by lowering the age of screening to children aged 3 years and incorporating elements of social and emotional wellbeing. The HKCheck will be conducted by general practitioners, practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers, and will cost about $11 million over 5 years.2

The Expert Working Group developing the HKCheck has not made public what the check comprises and what screening will be involved. While the first media release focused on 3-year-olds and “social and emotional development”, the most recent release (March 2013) announced that the expanded HKCheck will be phased in initially in eight Medicare Local areas in 2013, and the target group will be children aged from 3 to 5 years.3

It is not clear from the latest media release if social and emotional development will be included, and whether the HKCheck will identify “at-risk” families (ie, those with risk factors for children with…