Community pharmacy blood pressure monitoring
Community pharmacies in England will be able to provide blood pressure checks to people aged 40 and over from October thanks to a new deal between pharmacies and the NHS. This measure is in line with the NHS Long Term Plan which called for improved prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Estimates show that over the next five years 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks could be prevented and around 2,000 lives could be saved as a result of the checks.
Predictions also show that if 2.5 million people get their blood pressure checked in this way, an additional 250,000 people could receive lifesaving treatment for hypertension.
The NHS began piloting the checks in autumn 2019 with full rollout now starting from October this year. Pharmacists will case-find and offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms, provide clinical and lifestyle advice or referral, and record the data, joining up services and treatment with GPs and other local services, to speed up access to care.
As part of the new contract, local chemists will also play a part in NHS smoking cessation services by offering advice and care to smokers who have recently been discharged from hospital. Patients will be able to receive support sessions over 12 weeks with a trained member of the pharmacy team.
Helen Williams, National Specialty Adviser for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “As a pharmacist, I am delighted that this service is being rolled out across England. Community pharmacies are ideally placed to deliver blood pressure checks, being accessible within local communities and regularly used by most adults.
“This service will enable people with high blood pressure to be identified and treated early and will encourage conversations about lifestyle change to help people live healthy lives for longer.”
Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, said: “Pharmacy teams have already played an important part in the NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, and – with this new service being rolled out across the country – they will have a vital new role in delivering life-saving blood-pressure checks in the heart of our communities.”
The roll-out of these services is part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework covering England’s pharmacies which was been announced 24th August 2021, agreed by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).