The Company Chemists’ Association has called on local and national commissioners to increase uptake of blood pressure detection services in community pharmacy as new findings suggest pharmacy-based interventions have potential to improve both public health and NHS efficiency.
A one-week audit carried out by the CCA in 2017 of over 5,000 community pharmacies found that 220,000 customers were spoken to about their blood pressure.
Of the 30,000 blood pressure measurements taken during the audit, more than half were high (140/90 mmHg or higher) or pre-high 120/80-140/90mmHg). Around 9,100 patients were referred to their GP as a result of their screening.
CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said: “This audit shows how community pharmacies are already helping to improve the cardiovascular health of the people and patients they serve. It is particularly encouraging that thousands of people with high or pre-high blood pressure have been discovered and referred onwards appropriately.
“This illustrates how community pharmacists are well placed to support the health secretary’s drive to prevent ill health and improve care. However, a more robust plan for commissioning these essential checks would enable community pharmacies to do more to improve patients’ lives and save the NHS money.”
These services would be commissioned as either standalone services or via NHS Health Checks, Mr Harrison said.
This would involve both locally and nationally commissioned measurement services and would need to be supported by improved digital referral pathways and data sharing, the CCA said, adding that training more pharmacists up to be independent prescribers would help reduce workload in other healthcare services.
The new GP contract, with its emphasis on primary care networks, highlights a valuable role for community pharmacies to work alongside local GP surgeries, Mr Harrison said.