Health checks could save thousands of lives when given to patients who already have other appointments, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard said at the NHS Confederation conference earlier this week (June 16).
From this autumn, people dropping into an NHS clinic or pharmacy to receive their flu vaccination or booster dose of COVID-19 jab will also be offered targeted tests, such as blood pressure, heart rhythm, and cholesterol checks.
An NHSE&I spokesperson told C+D yesterday (June 17) that the initiative was announced as an idea, the details of which need to be further developed.
Local service providers can decide what type of checks they offer, the spokesperson added.
Pharmacists have already been offering heart checks as part of a pilot to identify people suffering from hypertension, sharing clinical and lifestyle advice with patients and referring them to treatment where appropriate.
NPA: Hope it is not a “one-off scheme”
National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette hopes the health checks initiative is "not a one-off scheme limited to a select few pharmacies”, but will be rolled out to all pharmacies, he said in a statement yesterday.
“We don’t yet have the details, but it makes sense for pharmacies to be part of any new initiatives to monitor heart health and cholesterol, given how accessible they are and their proven track record in preventative care,” Mr Lyonette added.
Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today (June 18) that the organisation welcomes the decision to test the “provision of prevention and health promotion services alongside COVID-19 vaccinations”.
“Community pharmacy teams across the country, not just in vaccination sites, are ideally placed to deliver health MOTs, but this needs to be commissioned and supported appropriately to allow pharmacy teams to have the relevant resource and workforce to deliver additional services,” Dr Hannbeck added.
Health secretary Matt Hancock first mooted the idea of “on the spot heart health checks” from community pharmacies in September 2019, at which point the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee stressed the service was “still in planning stages”.
C+D reported last month that the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is still committed to introducing a nationwide pharmacy heart health-check service, subject to negotiations. The DH also awaits the results of a cardiovascular disease (CVD) pilot that was launched in six selected primary care network areas in November 2020 and will run until July 2021.