Almost 4,000 community pharmacies had signed up to provide blood pressure (BP) checks for people aged over 40 years, as of 31 December 2021, NHS England has said.
In board papers published on 27 January 2022, NHS England said that the implementation of services agreed as part of the third year of the five-year ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework: 2019 to 2024’ “is progressing”.
The papers added that “as at 31 December 2021, 3,938 community pharmacies have signed up to provide BP checks for the over 40s since the introduction of the service in October 2021”.
In August 2021, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and the government agreed to launch a hypertension case-finding advanced service from 1 October 2021, following a pilot that had been running in 35 pharmacies since 1 November 2020.
The service aims to identify people aged 40 years or older with high BP, who have previously not had a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension, and refer them to general practice to confirm the diagnosis.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC, said: “It is great to see that a third of community pharmacies have already signed up to provide the service so soon after its launch, and during a period when the winter and a new wave of COVID-19 was increasing demands placed on pharmacy teams.”
He added that the service is one that community pharmacies have “been keen to get commissioned for many years so we expect many more pharmacies will start to provide it over the next couple of months”.
The agreement between the PSNC, Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement promised incentive fees of up to £1,800 to community pharmacies from outside the core funding, based on meeting certain thresholds of activity through the service.
Pharmacies that provide five ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) interventions in 2021/2022 can claim £1,000 to help cover the cost of ambulatory BP machines, which are loaned out to patients with high BP.
A further £400 will be paid in 2022/2023 to pharmacies providing 15 ABPM interventions and an additional £400 will be paid to those that provide 20 ABPM interventions in 2023/2024.
Pharmacists are able to offer ABPM interventions through the service if initial BP readings show that a patient has high BP between 135/85mmHg and 180/120mmHg.
In addition to the incentive fees, pharmacies are also paid a £440 set-up fee, £15 for each patient receiving a BP check in the pharmacy and £45 for each ABPM intervention.