Life-saving blood pressure checks offered in pharmacies
Monday, 14 November 2022
People across Cheshire and Merseyside are being asked to consider getting their blood pressure checked at their local high-street pharmacy, in order to prevent strokes and other cardio-vascular diseases.
The pharmacy service is just one of the ways that the NHS is looking to increase capacity to provide help and guidance for local people. Whilst the traditional role of community pharmacy has been the dispensing of medications, pharmacy teams offering a range of clinical services including blood pressure checks, Covid and flu vaccinations, new medicines reviews, and now taking direct referrals from GP practices and NHS 111 services to support minor illness and urgent medication requirements.
Many pharmacies now offer health living services and in particular appointments for blood pressure checks are being rolled out through pharmacies. If unchecked high blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart problems, with the North West region having the highest levels of cardio-vascular disease in the county. You can be referred by your GP or book an appointment directly with the pharmacy team.
Karen O’Brien is pharmacy lead for NHS England across the North West: “Offering blood pressure checks is one of the areas where we think that pharmacy teams can have a real positive impact on the region’s health. Community pharmacies are convenient and accessible and teams often have a good relationship with their regular customers, so can talk to them about health issues.
“As well as providing blood pressure checks, they can advise on use of blood pressure monitors at home. Spotting a problem early gives the opportunity for people to seek further help and advice that stops something more serious from developing.”
Latest data for the North West shows that in September, 2,500 people were referred by their GP to have a blood pressure check by their local pharmacy team and the number is growing month on month. The total number of blood pressure checks in pharmacies for September was around 5,000 and regional leads would like to see 50,000 checks a year carried out in pharmacies.
Dr Paula Cowan is regional clinical director for primary care for NHS England across the North West: “Community pharmacies have always been very accessible and are playing an increasingly important role as the NHS works to recover from the impact of the pandemic on our communities.
"Demand for NHS services is higher than ever before. As well as being experts on medication, pharmacy teams have an important role in helping people to treat minor conditions before they become more serious, as well as helping people to identify potential health problems so they can be tackled early on.”
Dr Cowan added: “If you have a long-term health condition, are pregnant or aged over 50, you are particularly at risk from Covid and flu viruses. If you haven’t taken up the offer of the free Covid and flu jabs yet, it’s important that you do so. You can speak to your pharmacy team at the same time about arranging a blood pressure check – it could help spot a problem early on, so that you can get help before it gets worse.
“Pharmacy staff continue to have an important role in helping manage increases in demand for NHS services and I’d ask people to remember to be patient if they experience delays in services.”