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Our commercial health tests spot trouble in store

You reported 'Commercial health tests will drive up GP workload' (June 30). When we trialled our Heart Risk Assessments in nine of our 200 pharmacies we did so with the full approval of the relevant local health organisations.

Customers filled in a risk assessment form covering family and medical history, lifestyle preferences and diet. This was discussed with the pharmacist and those meeting the at-risk criteria were screened with a free cholesterol test, blood pressure check and body mass index calculation.

In each case the trained pharmacist explained to customers that these tests were just an indication of a potential health issue and when a referral to a GP would be recommended.

As part of the free service, 280 customers were pre-screened. Following agreed protocols, 88 of these (all previously undiagnosed with any cardiovascular conditions) required referral to their GPs.

Local NHS feedback from GPs, practice nurses and local authorities has been very positive, as it has from participating customers.

As a result of the Tesco trial, a number of patients ­ with no previous record of heart problems ­ were diagnosed by their own GPs as having dangerously high blood pressure and other potential health problems.

Penny Beck

Superintendent Pharmacist

Tesco Pharmacy

Cheshunt

Hertfordshire

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