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Pharmacies carry out 75k blood pressure checks in just over 7 months

Community pharmacies in England have carried out 75,051 blood pressure checks within the seven months since the launch of the hypertension case-finding service, it has been revealed.

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb and Shahed Ahmad, NHS national clinical director for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, shared the figure in a blog commemorating World Hypertension Day, published today (May 17).

The pair also wrote that 6,800 pharmacies have signed up to offer blood pressure checks since the service launched in October 2021, a figure Mr Webb also mentioned during his keynote address at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London last week (May 13).

 

Read more: Independent prescribing one of new England pharmacy chief’s main priorities

 

Under the service, pharmacy teams can identify patients with undiagnosed hypertension by taking their blood pressure and, where necessary, they can offer ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to them.

Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad said the service is “a significant development in clinical services being offered in the community”.

It makes “greater use of community pharmacists’ clinical skills to support people manage their health, providing joined up care for patients”, they said.

 

Pandemic exacerbated CVD diagnosis gap

 

Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad noted that high blood pressure is “a major risk factor for CVD and significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke”.

 

Read more: Rishi Sunak tests hypertension service at Knights Pharmacy opening

 

 

While “early detection and treatment can help people live longer, healthier lives”, the pandemic saw a “reduction in diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of hypertension, and other CVD risk factors”, they noted.

This gap in diagnosis is expected to be larger “among the most deprived 20% of the population”, who account for “nearly a third of avoidable mortality from cardiovascular disease under the age of 75”, Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad added.

 

More pharmacies should offer the service

 

“Our hope is for more community pharmacies, specifically those in areas of health deprivation, to offer this vital service to deliver the wider aim in the NHS long-term plan to tackle health inequalities and the prevention of ill health,” Mr Webb and Dr Ahmad wrote.

The service could “prevent 150,000 strokes, heart attacks and dementia cases, over the next 10 years”, they estimated.

 

Read more: PSNC chief: Workforce pressures hinder pharmacy’s move to service-led model

 

In an exclusive interview with C+D, the new Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO Janet Morrison said contractors were having to consider whether they have the capacity to take on new services – such as the smoking cessation or hypertension case-finding service – or whether they should “slow [them] down” or pause them altogether.

A PSNC survey published last month also found that more than half of community pharmacy contractors in England responding to the survey had to stop offering non-essential services due to the pressures placed upon them.

 

 

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