According to NHS England data, the number of blood pressure checks delivered by community pharmacists to people aged over 40 years has more than doubled since May 2022.
The figures, published on 29 August 2023, show that 149,865 checks were administered to patients aged over 40 years in May 2023, compared with 58,345 in May 2022. The increase could prevent more than 1,300 heart attacks and strokes this year, according to NHS England.
Under the NHS community pharmacy blood pressure check service, which was launched in October 2021, community pharmacists can offer checks to people aged over 40 years without a diagnosis of hypertension, and those under 40 years who request a check owing to a family history of hypertension.
Pharmacists can also check people aged between 35 and 39 years at their discretion.
More than 100,000 community pharmacist blood pressure checks were taken in the first six months of the service’s operation.
Since April 2023, pharmacy technicians have also been able to take and record blood pressure checks under changes to the community pharmacy blood pressure check service.
Commenting on the figures, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at Community Pharmacy England, said: “It’s excellent to see the valuable contribution that pharmacy teams are making to key NHS priorities. Blood pressure checks make a big difference to the health of individuals and to have an impact on reducing health inequalities within our local communities.
“Pharmacies are well placed to play an even greater role in tackling cardiovascular disease and other long-term conditions, but they can only continue to do so if they have the right support and investment from government and the NHS.”
Tase Oputu, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “Community pharmacies have done outstanding work to double the number of blood pressure checks for the over 40s in the past year, helping to prevent many heart attacks and strokes.”
Bola Owolabi, director of healthcare inequalities at NHS England, said the figures demonstrated “the exceptional work being done by high street pharmacies to tackle health inequalities” and would “undoubtedly have a significant effect on reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke for so many people”.