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Matt Hancock: Blood pressure service to be piloted in pharmacies

Matt Hancock: The government will be making “better use of the clinical skills of pharmacists”
Matt Hancock: The government will be making “better use of the clinical skills of pharmacists”

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.

Are you in favour of this potential new service?

Jack Daniels, Community pharmacist

I'm liking the cynicism being expressed on here, totally the way I'm feeling. What I'm pondering actually is how muc hmoney this preventative service is going to bring in - methinks a couple of quid per test - can't see it reaching thr dizzy heights of £14 like CPCS! Aaaah How I miss the 400 MURs!!!

Tony Schofield, Community pharmacist


I suspect payment will be for referrals not just testing.

If he's such a fan of us why is he party to reducing numbers by attrition?

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

4 years at uni and 1 year pre reg check someone's blood pressure? Sorry? What's this going to lead to? Wow how very exciting.....

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

How many times per quarter will the blood pressure machine need to be calibrated?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

According to Omron, their blood pressure monitors need to be calibrated every two years when infrequently being used in a home environment and every twelve months in a professional setting.

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

I should think it will be for a pittance and require several hoops to jump through.   It will also probably take 5 times longer to record and claim for as it does to actually perform the test and the PSNC will hail it as a great acheivment... sorry for the cynisism I hope I can be proved wrong.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

On the one hand - brilliant! Great news! On the other - show me the money (and don't pay me from money you've just taken off me)!

Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser

so community pharmacists are actually getting paid for a service instead of doing it for free...simply...genius

P M, Community pharmacist

oh my lord... what is going on.  this has to be the greatest step forward ive seen in my twenty years of practice.. well done everyone 

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