Pharmacies to offer blood pressure tests to those aged 40 or over

Every NHS-affiliated pharmacy in England will be able to carry out vital blood pressure checks on those aged 40 and over from October, NHS England has announced. 

The NHS began testing the checks in the autumn of 2019, and the full rollout out will start in October of this year.

The scheme is linked to the NHS Long Term Plan’s goal to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes, and dementia cases. Pharmacists will be able to offer blood pressure tests to those showing symptoms, give clinical or lifestyle advice and will join up services and treatment with GPs and other local services to expedite access to care.

Helen Williams, National Specialty Adviser for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “As a pharmacist, I am delighted that this service is being rolled out across England. Community pharmacies are ideally placed to deliver blood pressure checks, being accessible within local communities and regularly used by most adults.

“This service will enable people with high blood pressure to be identified and treated early and will encourage conversations about lifestyle change to help people live healthy lives for longer.”

The new contract also means that local chemists will take part in NHS smoking cessation services by providing advice and care to smokers who have recently left hospital. Patients will be able to go to support sessions over a 12-week period with a trained member of the pharmacy team.

Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, said: “Pharmacy teams have already played an important part in the NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, and – with this new service being rolled out across the country – they will have a vital new role in delivering life-saving blood-pressure checks in the heart of our communities.”

The new scheme is a part of the 2021/22 community pharmacy contractual framework, which covers pharmacies in England, and has been agreed upon between NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).