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One third of patients register high blood pressure, NHS pilot results show

One third of all patients screened under a Community Pharmacy Hypertension Case Finding service pilot recorded high or very high blood pressure readings, new NHS England (NHSE) data has revealed.  

According to figures published yesterday (December 1) by NHSE, from an evaluation of a pilot of the service, some 114 patients – accounting for a third of all patients screened in the evaluation – received “high or very high blood pressure readings”.

Of these 114 patients, 40 were provided with ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), following a high reading in the pharmacy.

One third of those (12) given an ABPM, “still had a high reading following ABPM”, NHSE said.

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

Launched as an advanced pharmacy service in England in October 2021, currently 8,000 pharmacies are signed up to deliver the service.

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


2.5 million checks to be completed in 2023/24


The service falls under NHSE’s ‘NHS Prevention Programme’ which lists a range of “high impact interventions” relating to the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.

Supporting the detection and treatment of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, NHSE hopes the service will reduce “the burden on GP practices” and reach people “who may not attend general practice”, it added.

According to NHSE, in 2023/2024 community pharmacies could carry out 2.5 million blood pressure checks.

Public Health England also estimate that the service could save the NHS and local authorities £14 per patient over five years, based on a 20% improvement in management of hypertension to a 140/90mmHg target, NHSE added.


“Struggling to keep their heads above the water”


Responding to the data, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies told C+D today (December 2) that community pharmacies “have demonstrated time and time again that they can be a solution to the NHS”.

While “the evidence is there”, she added, “with years of underfunding, workforce pressures and higher medicine costs many are struggling to keep their heads above the water”.

The sector needs “urgent help”, she warned.

Read more: Taking the pressure off: What do pharmacists want their future to look like?

“The government has already seen what community pharmacy can achieve for the NHS and patient care, so why not support it?”

Last month, new pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien revealed that more than 400,000 blood pressure checks have been completed by community pharmacy over a 10-month period.

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.

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