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NHS high street hypertension service to launch in October

High street checks for high blood pressure are due to be introduced from October as part of plans for pharmacy to take a wider role in disease prevention and early detection.

First proposed in the NHS long-term plan, the early detection service is set to get off the ground next month as part of the £13 billion five-year community pharmacy contract.

Under the scheme, which is still in the development stage, pharmacists will case-find and offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms before providing clinical and lifestyle advice or GP referral.

If successful this could be rolled out to all community pharmacies in 2021-22, NHS England said.

It comes as the NHS has said patients could have access to high-dose statins on the high street without GP prescription, under new plans.

It also follows a £9 million NHS programme to identify patients on GP lists at risk of a stroke because they are not on recommended medication for atrial fibrillation that is being rolled out across 23 CCGs.

Specialist nurses and pharmacists will review practice records to find people who already have a diagnosis but are not receiving anticoagulation therapy.

A year-long pilot of the atrial fibrillation scheme in Lambeth and Southwark CCG reported a 25% reduction in the rate of AF-related stroke.

In order to better identify those at risk of heart disease and stroke at the practice level, NHS England also said it would be commissioning a regular national primary care audit, called CVDprevent.

Pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside have had a blood pressure screening service in place for months after estimates showed a potential 260,000 people in the region with undiagnosed hypertension.

NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: ‘Heart disease and strokes dramatically cut short lives, and leave thousands of people disabled every year, so rapid detection of killer conditions through High street heart checks will be a game-changer.’