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More than 400k pharmacy blood pressure checks done in 10 months

More than 400,000 blood pressure checks have been done by community pharmacy over a 10-month period, the pharmacy minister has revealed.

The figure was included in a response to a written question from an MP to the Department of Health and Social Care. The response also revealed that more than 8,000 pharmacies have now signed up to the hypertension case-finding service.

It follows figures from the first six months of the service, which showed the 7,200 community pharmacies signed up to offer the service had completed 115,419 blood pressure checks.

Read more: Pharmacy hypertension service: Over 100k blood pressure checks in 6 months

The latest numbers are from October 2021 to August 2022, and show an increased rate of hypertension checks being done by pharmacists.

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.

Find FREE C+D learning modules on cardiovascular health here

 

New clinical services

 

New pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien said: “Since 2019, several clinical services have been introduced, including minor illness referrals from GPs and NHS 111 and blood pressure checks.”

He continued that, as announced in September, the range of clinical services offered in community pharmacy would continue to expand.

Read more: PSNC unveils plans for new national pharmacy contraception service

“Community pharmacists will be able to manage and initiate contraception and provide extra support to patients [who have been] newly prescribed antidepressants.

“In addition, urgent emergency care settings will be able to refer patients to a community pharmacist for a minor illness consultation or an urgent medicine supply.”

But a survey from the National Pharmacy Association recently revealed that the public are not always aware of NHS commissioned services in pharmacy, including for the hypertension case-finding service.

The survey, done ahead of the annual Ask your Pharmacist Week campaign, found that only 48% believed pharmacies offered NHS blood pressure checks.

 

PSNC: Pharmacies can “play greater part in tackling CVD” 

 

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), told C+D it is “fantastic to see so many pharmacy teams have embraced this important service, which will make a big difference to the health of individuals and help reduce health inequalities in our local communities”.

“Pharmacy teams are well placed to play a greater part in tackling cardiovascular disease, alongside general practice colleagues,” Mr Buxton added.

Ade Williams, superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, said his team had been offering the service since it was commissioned and had also been doing outreach into the community.

“For us, being able to offer this service was a natural progression and locally the GP buy in has been really helpful.”

Read more: Hypertension: causes and measurement

He added they go the extra mile to follow up with patients as some they see admit it is not the first time they have been told they have high blood pressure.

It also fits neatly with the new medicines service because they can then speak to patients once they have been prescribed treatment, Mr Williams said.

“It’s exciting because it aligns community pharmacy with other healthcare services, but now we have proof of concept we need to think about adding prescribing, repeat medicines and medicines optimisation to this.

“This is a population that is already engaging; we need to think about how else we can help them.”

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