Source: Company Chemists’ Association
More blood pressure services should be commissioned through community pharmacy to support goals set out in the ‘NHS Long-Term Plan’, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has said.
In January 2019, it was announced that pharmacists within “primary care networks” of neighbouring GP surgeries would be supported to “find and treat people with high-risk conditions” such as high blood pressure through NHS Health Check, a service offered to adults in England aged 40–74 years.
The CCA has said that, in order to do this, blood pressure monitors must be made available for use by pharmacy teams as part of locally or nationally commissioned blood pressure measurement services.
It also recommended that there should be better data sharing between pharmacies and GPs; that pharmacy teams should be encouraged to undertake continuing professional development in blood pressure management; and that the number of pharmacist independent prescribers actively using their skills to help hypertensive patients should be increased to reduce pressure on GP practices.
The CCA’s recommendations follow the publication of a week-long audit of 5,220 pharmacies in Great Britain which sought to quantify the current contribution of community pharmacy teams in addressing high blood pressure.
During the audit week, which was carried out in 2017, pharmacy teams recorded a total of 221,091 interactions related to blood pressure between pharmacy teams and the public, more than half of which (59.42%) were directly connected to the patient’s medication, and 30,169 instances where a blood pressure measurement was taken in the pharmacy.
From this, the CCA estimated that community pharmacy teams in Great Britain measure the blood pressure of over 4 million patients per year, and in total have nearly 30 million interactions related to hypertension annually.
In addition, the audit found that ‘pre-high’ blood pressure, a reading of more than 120/80 mmHg but less than 140/90 mmHg, was more common than high blood pressure, with one in three of the blood pressure readings taken by the community pharmacy teams being categorised as pre-high.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the CCA, said: “This illustrates how community pharmacies 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.”