The Government has announced additional funding for the hypertension case-finding service, which will be relaunched and expanded next month.
The community pharmacy scheme initially launched in 2021 to identify eligible patients with high blood pressure and ‘refer them to general practice to confirm diagnosis and for appropriate management’.
All pharmacies in England can offer targeted cardiovascular (CVD) screening to patients aged over 40 as part of the service.
But when it was launched, GPs expressed concerns that this would lead to screening not recommended by experts.
Now as part of the Pharmacy First scheme launch announced today, the service will be expanded and given extra funding.
Community Pharmacy England said the service will be relaunched ‘to make better use of skill mix’ and ‘increase provision’ of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM).
An updated service specification and further guidance will be published shortly, CPE said.
It also said that it has delayed a proposed deadline for linking eligibility for the £1,000 Pharmacy First monthly payment to the provision of the hypertension case-finding and pharmacy contraception services ‘given the capacity issues in the sector’.
Community pharmacies will be allowed to initiate contraceptive prescriptions starting next month under the contraception service, which will also receive extra funding.
CPE negotiating team member Stephen Thomas said: ‘The opportunity to make better use of skill mix will be vital for the Hypertension Case-Finding Service, and with more funding now available for it and for the new Pharmacy Contraception Service we do now believe that pharmacies should go ahead with providing these services as soon as they can.’
Currently, the service aims to:
- Identify people aged 40 years or older, or at the discretion of the pharmacist, or pharmacy technician, people under the age of 40, with high blood pressure (who have previously not had a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension), and to refer them to general practice to confirm diagnosis and for appropriate management;
- At the request of a general practice, undertake ad hoc clinic and ambulatory blood pressure measurements. These requests can be in relation to people either with or without a diagnosis of hypertension; and
- Provide another opportunity to promote healthy behaviours to patients.
Community pharmacies across England will be able to opt in to provide a ‘common conditions’ service from 31 January – subject to the right IT support being ready.
From the same date, community pharmacists will be able access and add to patient records currently maintained by GPs, in a bid to free up millions of GP appointments.