The NPA, with support from Essex local pharmaceutical committee (LPC), launched the first phase of the pilot last month (May 16), which involves “developing a standardised blood pressure screening protocol” (see below).
This phase will run until September, after which the 12 pharmacies will focus on initiating hypertension treatment with patients, something that “has not been done before”, NPA chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck claimed.
“People are going around like a ticking time bomb, not knowing [they] have a problem with hypertension until it is too late,” she added.
“We want pharmacy to detect and manage undiagnosed hypertension because we know that it is a big issue in communities.”
The “secondary aim” of the service is to identify individuals with undiagnosed AF, as “the blood pressure devices used in the initial readings [of hypertension] also have AF functionality”, Ms Hannbeck explained.
The NPA hopes the service will reduce pressure on GPs and allow patients to be screened and treated closer to home. It is in discussions with Anglia Ruskin University to evaluate the pilot, Ms Hannbeck said.
The evidence collected through the pilot will help “pave the way for the next steps of managing long-term conditions in community pharmacies”, in the hope that these services will then be commissioned nationally, she added.
No payment for pharmacies "at the moment"
Pharmacies will not be paid to provide the service “at the moment”, but the NPA and Essex LPC have provided funding for the equipment and “robust training”, Ms Hannbeck stressed.
Both the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England are aware of and have expressed “interest” in the service, she added. “Even the pharmacy minister has been briefed.”
The NPA is also in correspondence with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, other LPCs and clinical commissioning groups about the pilot.