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Pharmacy heart check service 'still in planning stages', explains PSNC

If the pilot is successful, it could be rolled out as an advanced service in 2021-22 (Image credit: CCA)
If the pilot is successful, it could be rolled out as an advanced service in 2021-22 (Image credit: CCA)

A pharmacy service to identify undiagnosed CVD is “still in the planning stages”, PSNC has explained following national media coverage of NHS England's plans.

From October 1 – when the 2019-20 pharmacy contract for England comes into force – “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”, NHS England announced yesterday (September 2).

The announcement was picked up by several national media outlets – and lauded by health secretary Matt Hancock on Twitter, who claimed that “from next month, pharmacies will offer on-the-spot free heart health checks to boost early detection of heart attacks and strokes”.

However, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) clarified to C+D that the details of the pharmacy cardiovascular disease (CVD) service are still being planned.

It is “one of a range of new services” to be piloted that could be funded by the five-year contract, PSNC stressed. If successful, it could be rolled out as a fully funded national service from 2021-22.

Under the pilot, pharmacists will be asked to proactively identify patients at risk of heart disease and stroke and offer them on-the-spot blood pressure checks, provide clinical and lifestyle advice and, where appropriate, refer patients on to treatment within primary care networks (PCNs), complementing the CVD service specification in the GP contract, PSNC explained.

NHS England has not yet selected which pharmacies will pilot the service, PSNC told C+D.

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: “The CVD pilot in pharmacies…represents an important example of community pharmacy’s wider service ambitions and we are keen to see its commencement as soon as possible.

“By making a success of pilots such as this, the sector will become more integrated with, and valuable to, the rest of the NHS,” he added.

Success of other pilots

Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals across England have already piloted similar early CVD detection services in Cheshire and Merseyside, Lambeth and Southwark in London, Dudley and West Hampshire, and have seen “substantial improvement” in diagnosis and treatment rates, NHS England said.

It referred to a pilot in Cheshire and Merseyside, where a network of more than 320 healthy living pharmacies offer blood pressure screening. At the end of the first phase of the pilot in April 2019, 116 of the participating pharmacies had delivered more than 3,500 blood pressure measurements, NHS England said.

In a separate pilot with Lambeth and Southwark clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), GPs, specialist nurses and specialist atrial fibrillation (AF) pharmacists worked together to identify patients who had been diagnosed with AF, but had not received anticoagulation medication.

Following this joint intervention, the CCGs saw a 25% reduction in the rate of AF-related strokes, the commissioning body said.

In February this year, the Company Chemists’ Association called for more pharmacy blood pressure tests to be commissioned, after an audit of pharmacies from seven of the largest multiples across Great Britain revealed that 30,169 blood pressure measurements had been taken over a one-week period in 2017, with “high” and “pre-high” readings identified in more than half of these tests.

6 Comments
Question: 
Do you currently offer blood pressure checks in your pharmacy?

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Where do we get the time  & payment for this & any other 'new services'??-remember this is still within of our overall 5 year costs freeze!!--no extra money there!

Snake Plissken, Student

On the spot blood pressure check doesn’t instantly mean a single high reading equates to patient having hypertension. However, still early stages with this service but can already  tell surgeries getting annoyed at constant referral equating to increased workload.

Success of other pilots.. 

 

 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Might be fun this one - imagine the conversation bearing in mind we are supposed to be pro-active about it..

'Hello Mr/Mrs X. You're looking particularly fat and unfit today - would you like a free heart health check?'

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""Pharmacy heart check service 'still in planning stages'""

Can this message be relied in BOLD (shout if required) to the Media and the numbnut Politicians who jump to sensetionalise any news for their own benefit (without even rectifying)

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

The government a truely clueless.

They have taken away the funding which would allow locum costs to be factored in. These sort of services are only viable if they have the pharmacist's complete attention and not the worry that they have to check a walk in etc. 

 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

And where are we meant to fit this service in??

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