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NHS: Pharmacies could give health checks alongside vaccine appointment

NHSE&I: Local providers can decide which health checks they offer
NHSE&I: Local providers can decide which health checks they offer

Patients with an appointment for a vaccination at a pharmacy or NHS vaccination clinic could be given health checks at the same time from this autumn, NHSE&I has announced.

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.

What do you make of this announcement?

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Hahahahahaa. You got to be kidding me. How much do they want pharmacists to do for free

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

Don't worry, we don't need to be paid. Just the satisfaction from taking all that work off the overworked GPs will be enough.

Conor M, Community pharmacist

You took the words right out of my mouth! I love this website's comment sections.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacists and their staff have been ideally placed in the line of infection, mental and physical burnout (not to mention abuse and threats of violence). They will never be properly rewarded for it. The recent suggestion again reflects the fact that these people will never be sat there carrying out the work with insufficient human resources.

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

Not to mention the ever present threat of being struck off .....

Meera Sharma, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Perhaps the NPA and mr Lyonette ought to be reminded that pharmacy is snowed under at the moment and any services coming our way will need to be properly funded to afford extra pair of hands. So before you get too exited sitting in your cosy office, get familiar with the reality. So out of touch! 



Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Totally agree. Have Mark and Leyla ever exited their Ivory towers and come down the salt mines of community pharmacy over the last 15 months?

And not forgetting that old chestnut "ideally placed" . If I had a pound for every time I've heard that over the last 30 years I'd be retired by now.

Meera Sharma, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Angela, to be fair at least Leyla has said in her statement in this article that we need appropriate funding to pay for workforce to deliver, so not criticising her.  The problem is pharmacy cannot keep doing services for peanuts or for free! 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

The last version of health checks was so prescriptive in who could be assessed as to make it unviable and unworkable - let's hope some of the 'details' to be worked out include some input from planet earth!

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Could they? How much will they be paid for that service? How much of that money will be reinvested into staff hours so that the pharmacist will have the extra time to carry out the service? 

Hold on a minute, “We don’t yet have the details" ...........


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