The NHS announced today that every NHS pharmacy in England will carry out blood pressure checks in October. It aims to find thousands more people aged 40 and over living with cardiovascular disease earlier, as well as hoping to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes, and dementia cases.
It is estimated that over the next five years, 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks could be prevented with the introduction of the tests, with around 2,000 lives being saved.
Data has shown that if 2.5 million people get their blood pressure checked through this method, an additional 250,000 people could receive lifesaving treatment for hypertension.
The pharmacy check programme was first piloted in autumn 2019 by the NHS.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “It has been an extraordinary year for our pharmacy teams who have continued to ensure millions of people have access to medicines and health advice as well as playing a vital role in delivering the NHS Covid vaccination programme.
“More high street heart checks for blood pressure will mean more rapid detection of killer conditions and quicker treatment for patients who need it.
“Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks so if you are worried about your health, please do get tested – it could save your life.
“The NHS Long Term Plan aims to crack down on killer conditions and this action by pharmacy teams will go a long way in helping us achieve our ambitions of saving more lives.”
People showing symptoms will be offered blood pressure tests from pharmacists who will also case-find. They will offer clinical and lifestyle advice or referral, and record the data, which will join up services and treatment with GPs and other local services, to speed up care access.
Local chemists will also support NHS smoking cessation services by offering advice and care to smokers recently discharged from hospital. This will involve support sessions for patients over 12 weeks with a trained member of the pharmacy team.
Health Minister, Lord James Bethell, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to pharmacists for their hard work and commitment to delivering more services to their patients, helping support a healthy nation.
“Pharmacists are the first port of call for minor conditions, and it is really encouraging to see even more health services being led from pharmacies, many of which are at the heart of local communities and easy to access.
“These new blood pressure clinics are just one example of the vital, life-saving check-ups pharmacies provide, and will go a long way to helping prevent heart disease. I strongly encourage everyone to sign up to these services when they come online from October.”
Dr Shahed Ahmad, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, said: “The detection and control of high blood pressure is one of the best things we can do to save lives and reduce health inequalities. Community pharmacists are ideally placed to deliver this life saving work and I am delighted they are now offering blood pressure checks.”
Helen Williams, National Specialty Adviser for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “As a pharmacist, I am delighted that this service is being rolled out across England. Community pharmacies are ideally placed to deliver blood pressure checks, being accessible within local communities and regularly used by most adults.”
The service forms part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework, which covers England’s pharmacies, and was agreed by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.