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Nationwide roll-out of NHS high street heart checks

Thousands of lives will be saved thanks to more blood pressure checks in high street pharmacies, the NHS said.

Every NHS pharmacy in England will be able to provide lifesaving checks to people aged 40 and over from October thanks to a new deal between pharmacies and the NHS.

Over the next five years, estimates show that 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks could be prevented as a result of the tests and around 2,000 lives could be saved.

Predictions also show that if 2.5m people get their blood pressure checked in this way, an additional 250,000 people could receive lifesaving treatment for hypertension.

This action is the latest step to find thousands more people living with cardiovascular disease earlier and to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases – a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Pharmacists will case-find and offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms, provide clinical and lifestyle advice or referral, and record the data, joining up services and treatment with GPs and other local services, to speed up access to care.

woman having blood pressure monitor

As part of the new contract, local chemists will also play a part in NHS smoking cessation services by offering advice and care to smokers who have recently been discharged from hospital.  Patients will be able to receive support sessions over 12 weeks with a trained member of the pharmacy team.

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.

‘This service will enable people with high blood pressure to be identified and treated early and will encourage conversations about lifestyle change to help people live healthy lives for longer.’

The roll-out of these services is part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework covering England’s pharmacies which has been announced today, agreed by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, said: ‘Pharmacy teams have already played an important part in the NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, and, with this new service being rolled out across the country – they will have a vital new role in delivering life-saving blood-pressure checks in the heart of our communities.’

Photo Credit – Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

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