Community pharmacists will begin developing testing a service to rapidly detect cardiovascular conditions, NHS England has announced.
From 1 October 2019, under the new community pharmacy contract, pharmacies will start to “develop and test” the new service referring patients on for further testing and treatment if required.
The service will start with blood pressure checks and may go on to include testing for atrial fibrillation, The Pharmaceutical Journal understands.
In a press release published on 2 September 2019, a spokesperson for NHS England said that 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”.
If the service is successful, it could be expanded to all community pharmacies by 2021/2022, NHS England added.
Responding to the announcement, Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said: “This new contract makes the most of the clinical skills of local pharmacists and establishes pharmacies across England as local health hubs — open in the evenings and at weekends — where people can go for an ever-increasing range of clinical health checks and treatment.”
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) welcomed the committment and indicated it could be implemented by April 2021 and could include testing for other conditions, such as atrial fibrillation.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC said: “The cardiovascular disease pilot in pharmacies is still in the planning stages, but it represents an important example of community pharmacy’s wider service ambitions and we are keen to see its commencement as soon as possible.”
The “high street heart checks” are part of targets laid out in the ‘NHS long-term plan’ to prevent tens of thousands of strokes and heart attacks over the next ten years.
This article was corrected on 5 September 2019 after NHS England clarified that electrocardiograms and cholesterol testing will not be provided in pharmacies under this new pilot, or in the NHS Health Check scheme.