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Fire crews to take blood pressure reading in NHS Health Checks rollout

NHS England will announce plans today to roll out health checks to more patients using wider local authority and third sector workforces, which will include fire and rescue services taking blood pressure readings in parts of England.

The new drive is based on data that suggests that health checks could prevent more than 9,000 heart attacks and at least 14,000 strokes over the next three years.

In a joint initiative with PHE, the expansion of NHS Health Checks will increase access to blood pressure testing in the workplace, and using the wider local authority and third sector workforce to carry out health checks in community settings.

Dr Matt Kearney, the NHS’s national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention and GP said: 'Some parts across the country have already started to use non-traditional ways – and places - to carry out simple health checks with encouraging results but it is up to clinicians and others to decide where and how this is done in their area.'

Pulse understands that in some parts of England this includes fire crews taking blood pressure readings when they check people's fire alarms among a range of initiatives.

It will also include more testing and treatment in pharmacies, more self-monitoring, more access to blood pressure testing in community and workplace settings, and new digital tools such as the 'One You Heart Age Test'.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the national medical director of NHS England, will say today that closer working between NHS organisations and local authorities will ‘create new opportunities to get serious about prevention and bear down on two of the biggest killers, between them responsible for one in four premature deaths’.

Speaking at NHS England’s Health and Care Expo, he will add: ‘We know how to treat the resulting heart attacks and stroke, but everyone knows that prevention is better than cure. 

‘Prevention of these devastating consequences is everybody’s business from our schools, to the food and tobacco industries, to local authorities and the NHS.’ 

However, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, expressed ‘valid concerns about blanket health checks that both deflect resources away from delivering patient care to those who really need it; and have the potential to cause unintended harms’.

She said: ‘The College agrees that prevention is key to the long-term sustainability of the NHS, and our patients’ long-term health and wellbeing. 

‘But we must ensure that we take a patient-centred approach - focused on the individual - as all patients have unique physical, psychological and social factors potentially affecting their health.’

According to PHE data, 5.5m people in England have undiagnosed high blood pressure and nearly half a million have undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, which increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, dementia and limb amputations.

A study last year found that NHS Health Checks is proving a ‘remarkable success’ having prevented at least 2,500 heart attacks and strokes in England in the past five years.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, will say: ‘Scaling up CVD prevention locally is a major part of reducing the overall burden on individuals, families and the NHS, and will help to ensure a person’s health is not defined by where they live’.

NHS England and PHE have written to all 44 regional partnerships tasked with overhauling local health and social care to urge them to improve prevention of CVD.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Dear All,
    Brilliant, and what are the likely stress levels of recipients of the fire services? This is so mind bogglingly stupid it leaves me speechless........
    Paul C

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  • What a waste of time! Evidence of significant benefit sorely lacking.

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  • The BP is likley to be raised due to stress, and then the patient has to book with the GP- all those extra appointments . Good that we have so much spare time.

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  • it's not the health checks themselves which prevent thousands of strokes, but the followup, diagnostic workup and ongoing treatment of the hypertension and risk factors by gps ,and if there isn't the capacity for all the necessary follow up, the desired outcomes won't happen.If this rollout includes budgets for extra nursing /gp sessions to deal with the checks wd sound better!

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  • Nhsfatcat

    We are making sure all the elderly and those in blocks have working smoke detectors and their boilers are safe, so it's only fair that the fire service does some BPs; be good if they take some flu vaccines with them.

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  • Yes it's clearly all happening down at the 'Expo'
    As I said yesterday, is there anyone that goes to the Expo who has any idea what is happening on the ground. It's just a load of self congratulating people living in ivory tower cloud cuckoo land. I think we should all go to it next year to protest. The NHS mantra of nothing done to me without my involvement does not appear to be extending out to the workers. Clueless!!!!!

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  • 'Your alarm is not working. Your building's cladding is shite. Can I just check your blood pressure'

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  • AlanAlmond

    ...oh wow I just checked your blood pressure, and now I'm going to suggest you book an appointment with your GP who will ...err ..most likely ...err..check your blood pressure again ...I guess.

    Exactly how is getting firemen or anyone else for that matter going to help reduce work load for GPs????? It's just another genius idea to increase demand and make it even more difficult for anyone to get an appointment. We don't have enough capacity in general practice you plonkers..brain storming worthy ways of increasing demand for a service that can't provide the service it's already being asked to is frankly STUPID. Regardless of the potential public health benefits ...if you don't fund it you can't have it the damned fools.

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  • Presumably the fire crews will be CQC registered, inspected etc?

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  • Pull a crappy idea out of the crappy idea bingo machine,done by the prawn sandwich and PowerPoint brigade,but fail to think of any consequences down stream.Are these people really as monosynaptic as they seem.Why are so many of so-called health care leaders collaborating in the crapfest.Collectivization is in full swing commissar!

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