From October, every NHS pharmacy in England will be able to offer blood pressure checks to people aged 40 and over

Blood pressure check

A new NHS contract with NHS community pharmacies in England will see blood pressure test services rolled out across the country from October.

The service, which will be available to people aged 40 and over, aims to identify 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.

Joining up services

Over the next 5 years, estimates show that 3700 strokes and 2500 heart attacks could be prevented as a result of community pharmacy blood pressure tests, and around 2000 lives could be saved. Predictions also show that if 2.5 million people get their blood pressure checked in this way, an additional 250,000 people could receive lifesaving treatment for hypertension.

Community 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.

As part of the new contract, local pharmacies 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.

The roll-out of these services is part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework covering England’s pharmacies, which has been agreed upon by NHS England, the DHSC, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The NHS began piloting blood pressure checks in autumn 2019.

‘Rapid detection and quicker treatment’

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, commented on the scheme: ‘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 […] 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.’

Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for NHS England, added: ‘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.’