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Pharmacy BP checks help public know their numbers in awareness week

Practice The Know your Numbers campaign, run by Blood Pressure UK and taking place from September 16-22, will see pharmacies among the 1,000 “Pressure Stations” around the country testing the public’s blood pressure

Pharmacies will be among 1,000 ‘Pressure Stations' offering free blood pressure checks next week (September 16-22) to ensure that patients "know their numbers".

More than 300 Asda pharmacies and Lincolnshire Co-operative's 44 pharmacies will be joining other pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, supermarkets, health clubs and shopping centres for the Know your Numbers campaign run by Blood Pressure UK.

The charity's hypertension nurse Nirmala Markandu has been sharing tips on blood pressure reading and monitoring with Avicenna members, the charity told C+D.

More than one in three people have high blood pressure, said Blood Pressure UK, a third of whom are unaware they have the condition

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The campaign aims to encourage people to discover if they have "lucky numbers", with one in three people experiencing high blood pressure, a third of whom are unaware they have the condition, the charity said.

Since the campaign launched in 2001 more than 1.5 million people have been tested during the awareness week, helping the public to be as familiar with their blood pressure numbers as they are with their weight and height, it said.

A study commissioned by Blood Pressure UK in the run-up to the survey revealed that 90 per cent of 2,007 respondents were not aware of their blood pressure numbers and only 30 per cent understood what blood pressure readings mean.

What other health campaigns could pharmacy contribute to?

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Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Surely, this should be a properly funded & commissioned service! It takes time for a technician or pharmacist to carry out these - clearly important - checks, which costs the employer. There needs to be some recompense otherwise, yet again, pharmacy is underwriting the nations health

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Funding should be given to run these as a formal service most definitely. When you look at the figures for screening a patient's glucose, and prescribing a suitable medication compared to treatment of complications from uncontrolled diabeties there is plenty of room for funding pharmacies to conduct this service just from the savings the NHS would benefit from pharmacy alone, not to mention the reduced pressure on the specialist teams, secondary care, etc.

It almost seems crazy that the NHS hasn't pushed it forward already!

Small Pharm Owner, Other pharmacy staff

We would love this to be a core service which we are reimbursed for. We offer our screening service free in order to compete with the big multiples- unfortunately being a relatively small pharmacy we don't benefit from the extra footfall who probably go on and buy hair dryers, perfumes etc. Despite running these services at a loss we believe its an important role in pharmacy care although if the current contract is not reformed to provide a more financially rewarding solution and we continue to have to dispense drugs at a loss then these proactive services will be the first to go!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It is a shame when quality of care and access to services are reduced or lost because of funding. A backwards step.

I have a question I hope you could answer, if all your pharmacys just became entirely prescription based, no services above the basic dispensing and fulfilling prescriptions, would it be financially viable?

I ask because I'm curious if the core basics of the pharmaceutical setting is unsustainable, what does that mean for the rest of it? Is this something that should be addressed?

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

I agree with Stephen, why would we do something for free? We should trial, show evidence and then commission it, or stop.

Cholesterol tests are actually reasonably expensive.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I completely agree with this, any suggestion that there's no room in the budget just needs to look on further ahead then inital costs. The amount saved in a preventative approach is something that should be encouraged and championed - it's cost effective.

And pharmacy is the place to do it.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I am always fully on board with every health campaign ~ this year making an extra special attempt on smoking cessation. I like to offer BP and Glucose testing free all year, especially when someone comes in suffering from possible related symptoms, I can signpost to GPs and offer advice on reducing high figures. Had a few over the last couple of months where I had deemed signposting to be necessary, they've now have it under control with medication.

Pharmacies do fantastic work offering these services, and together we really do make a difference!

Small Pharm Owner, Other pharmacy staff

Likewise Ben. It is a great way to build rapport and trust with customers whilst potentially averting more complicated outcomes further down the line. It's one of the great strengths community pharmacy has.

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