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Welsh health boards launch campaign to offer free stroke and diabetes tests in pharmacies

Health boards in Wales have launched a campaign in conjunction with community pharmacies to offer free diabetes and stroke risk tests for two weeks, with patients found to be at risk to be given referral letters to their GP or advice to mention their status to their doctor.

The One in Ten campaign, which kicked off this week, has been launched in response to the Welsh Government's action target to move care into the community by using health checks to identify health problems earlier.

Community Pharmacy Wales said the initiative was the first pharmacy campaign in Wales focused on two of the main health threats together, with around 11,000 Welsh people suffering a stroke every year and an estimated 350,000 unaware they are at high risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Russell Goodway, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: ‘Community pharmacies are ideally placed to take public health messages to the 50,000 people a day who visit their local pharmacy whether they are well or ill.'

Ana Palazon, director of the Stroke Association in Wales, said: ‘Many strokes can be prevented. Once you know you are at risk, there are plenty of things you can do to lower your chances of having a stroke, such as changing your diet, giving up smoking and cutting down your drinking.'

Dai Williams, director of Diabetes UK Cymru, said: ‘If this campaign can find even a fraction of [those people at high risk], it will be worthwhile because – like stroke – diabetes is heavily related to lifestyle. If you know your risk, you can take steps for a healthier future.'

In June 2011, a Welsh pharmacy campaign that focused solely on diabetes assessed 17,500 people, finding 8.4% were at high risk of developing the condition and 24% at increased risk.

Dr David Bailey, chair of the Welsh GPC, was more cautious about how useful the scheme would prove to be and how it would impact upon GPs.

‘[There is] no funding, of course,' he said. ‘If they pick up glycosuria or high blood levels we would want to see the patient. The stroke stuff will be the same screens – obesity BPAS and possibly cholesterol. We've not previously seen much effect – they've done these before – but [they are] not averse to picking up genuinely high-risk people.'

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