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National public health award for Barnsley’s How’s Thi Ticker

Council’s free campaign to check blood pressure wins prestigious Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Public Health award 

The How’s Thi Ticker campaign was launched by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in the summer of 2022. In partnership with local NHS services, area teams, pharmacies and businesses, the campaign runs events across the region where people can quickly and easily check their blood pressure, as well as receiving information from healthcare professionals about how to look after their heart.

human heart illustration

Photo by Robina Weermeijer

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, puts strain on many parts of the body, including blood vessels, heart, brain and other organs. Ongoing high blood pressure can greatly increase the risk of serious, life-threatening conditions including heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia. 

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. Systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force with which the heart pumps blood. Diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the resistance to blood flow between heartbeats. Both are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). 

Though everyone’s blood pressure will be different, and what might be high or low in person could be abnormal in someone else, the NHS provides a useful guideline: blood pressure should ideally be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, and below 150/90mmHg for those over 80. 

Higher than this, and a person can be at risk of developing high blood pressure and the associated health problems. 

Once someone knows they have – or are at risk of developing – high blood pressure, a range of things can be done to help them lower the numbers and reduce the danger. These including reducing consumption of alcohol and salt, stopping smoking and being more active. But first people need to be aware of the issue and get their blood pressure checked. Barnsley’s initiative is a novel way in which to address this crucial first step. 

The How’s Thi Ticker campaign was developed with local communities – who even came up with the name – in an effort to counter this risk. Venues have included markets, libraries, community centres and barber shops. In the first year of the campaign, more than 300 sessions were held, totally nearly 5,000 blood pressure checks. Some 40% of those people who took part were referred to their GP or local pharmacy for advice on how to bring down their blood pressure.  

Over the course of its second year, more than 2,500 additional blood pressure checks have been undertaken. The innovative approach taken by the campaign has also been recognised by winning this year’s Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Public Health award. The awards ceremony was held at Grosvenor House in London. 

‘The judges commended this as an excellent example of population health management,’ says the award citation, ‘taking a major health challenge of hypertension and developing a locally led and uniquely community driven approach to tackling this.’ 

Anna Hartley, Executive Director for Public Health and Communities at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, says: ‘We want everyone in Barnsley to be able to enjoy life in good physical and mental health, getting the right support at the right time and place to tackle problems early.  

‘Over the past two years, How’s Thi Ticker has been an amazing local success, welcoming esteemed visitors from NHS England to see how we’re doing things differently in Barnsley. With communities at the heart of How’s Thi Ticker, it’s great to see the impact of everything our team has achieved to improve people’s lives recognised by our LGC Awards success.’ 

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Simon Guerrier
Writer and journalist for Social Care Today, Infotec and Air Quality News

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