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Matt Hancock: Blood pressure service to be piloted in pharmacies

A service to test patients for high blood pressure in pharmacies may be piloted nationwide this year, the health secretary announced today (February 17).

The pilot will be “linked to a new service in the GP contract”, with the aim of reducing premature deaths and disability caused by coronary heart disease, Mr Hancock said in a video addressing the annual Sigma conference in Cebu in the Philippines.

A figure for remuneration and further details about how the service would work in practice were not elaborated on. 

In September last year, NHS England said “community pharmacists will start to develop and test an early detection service to identify people who may have undiagnosed, high-risk conditions – like blood pressure – for referral for further testing and treatment”.

It has, however, remained unclear which pharmacies will pilot the service and when pilots will begin. A DH spokesperson told C+D today that NHS England and NHS Improvement are “almost ready to start the pilot”.

Mr Hancock said the government plans to make “better use of the clinical skills of pharmacists” through an “integrated approach”. This will entail clinical services commissioned in pharmacies being aligned with those in GP practices.

The relationship pharmacists have with their patients will be used to “prevent unnecessary hospital admissions”, Mr Hancock explained.

“Much bigger contribution”

The health secretary stressed his belief in the difference community pharmacy can make to the health of the population, commenting that he hoped the sector knew “how much of a supporter I am of community pharmacy”.

Highlighting the “crucial role that pharmacy teams play in their communities”, he said he is “absolutely convinced that community pharmacy can make a much bigger contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation”.

Another area the government is “targeting” in community pharmacy is the “effective use of inhalers and preventative medicines”, Mr Hancock said.

“We'll do our part by aligning the work we commission and incentivise through the national contract,” he added.

Mr Hancock used the video as an opportunity to once again emphasise that he is a “big proponent” of the French pharmacy model, and thanked pharmacists for their “engagement and support” in embracing the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

“I think it's absolutely fantastic and I thank you for that enthusiasm,” he said.

The health secretary added that he wants to build on the new service to expand referrals from NHS 111. So far, more than 90% –10,610 of England’s 11,500 community pharmacies – have signed up to the CPCS.

Follow @CandDEliza on Twitter to catch up with all the latest coverage from the Sigma conference in the Philippines.

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