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CCA: 5,000-pharmacy audit proves case for commissioned BP services

The CCA has called for more pharmacy blood pressure services to be commissioned, following a review of 5,220 pharmacies.

Pharmacy teams had 221,091 interactions with patients regarding their blood pressure over a one week period in 2017, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) – which represents the UK’s largest multiples and supermarket pharmacies – announced in a report yesterday (February 12).

The audit of pharmacies from seven of the largest multiples across Great Britain – representing just under 40% of the sector – showed that during this period, 30,169 blood pressure measurements were taken and “high” and “pre-high” readings were identified in more than half of these tests.

CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said the audit results prove that community pharmacies are already helping to improve patients’ cardiovascular health, but stressed the need for “a more robust plan for commissioning essential” pharmacy blood pressure services – either as a standalone solution or part of the NHS health check.

The most common interaction in the pharmacy was to offer patients lifestyle advice, which occurred in a quarter of cases (56,282 occasions), while one in five (43,100) involved discussing the patient's hypertension medicines, the CCA added.

Two thirds of pharmacies that took part in the audit offer a blood pressure measurement service, but “it is expected that most of these services are offered free to patients and funded by the pharmacy”, the CCA said.

Mr Harrison said the audit “illustrates how community pharmacies are well placed to support the health secretary’s drive to prevent ill health and improve care”.

“With the new GP contract, and the establishment of primary care networks, there is now the opportunity for community pharmacies to work with GP practices to collaboratively support patients’ easy access to blood pressure measurement services via their local pharmacy,” he added.

What did the CCA’s pharmacy audit recommend?

Further commissioning of blood pressure measurement services

Commissioners should “ensure that all pharmacies have blood pressure monitors available that can be used by pharmacy teams to take measurements as part of local, or nationally commissioned measurement services”.

Better information sharing and digital referral pathways

“Allowing community pharmacists to have both ‘read’ and ‘write’ access to the GP record would enable more effective sharing of blood pressure monitoring results and recommendations.”

“Local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, health and wellbeing boards, community pharmacies and their representatives need to work together…to form inward and outward referrals, so community pharmacy teams can triage people.

“Those arrangements should be considered as part of the establishment of primary care networks.”

Increase atrial fibrillation detection

“More widespread uptake of [blood pressure monitoring] equipment in community pharmacies in line with a national or locally commissioned model will increase the awareness and detection of AF.”

Increase number of Independent prescribers

“Improving the prevalence of community pharmacist independent prescribing by addressing some of the current barriers around access to prescribing budgets would also allow pharmacists to alter a patient’s medication to enhance clinical efficacy and alleviate adverse drug reactions.”

Source: Combatting high blood pressure in the community, CCA, February 2019

Does your pharmacy offer a blood pressure measurement service?

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