GPs are being urged to only refer patients for elective surgery if their blood pressure has been recorded at below 160/100mmHg in the past 12 months, under new guidelines aimed at cutting the number of operations cancelled because of high blood pressure.
The guidelines – from the British Hypertension Society and Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland – also call on GPs to make sure they include blood pressure readings in all referral documents, saving time and avoiding unnecessary cancellations because of high blood pressures recorded once the patient has gone into hospital for the operation.
GP recordings will provide the confirmation needed for surgeons to proceed with surgery, removing the requirement for readings in secondary care, the organisations argue.
The guidelines have been introduced to establish one formal document that can be used ‘as a benchmark’ for all GPs to know what readings are appropriate when referring patients for elective surgery.
Prior to the guidelines, it was found that the lack of agreement between primary and secondary care over acceptable blood pressure readings led to confusion and ‘frustration’, with up to 100 operations a day being cancelled because of high blood pressure readings taken in hospitals.
The document was put together using feedback from a range of experts including GPs and anaesthetists as well as views taken from patient groups.
Dr Terry McCormack, GP and co-chair of the guidelines working party said: ‘We wanted to create a common sense document that everybody can use as a benchmark.
‘Blood pressure readings need to come from primary care where there is already recognition that this is the best place to have it done.’
He added: ‘It shouldn’t be too big of an ask for GPs to include blood pressure in a referral document – these guidelines are intended to make both GPs’ and patients’ lives easier.’