Community pharmacies will offer high blood pressure checks as part of a national pilot scheme, NHS England announced this week (2 September).

The plans – which the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said are ‘in the planning stages’ – are part of a ‘major revamp of high street pharmacy services’, NHS England said.

First proposed in the NHS long-term plan, the cardiovascular disease (CVD) early detection service is due to be trialled as part of the five-year community pharmacy contract that comes into force in October.

Under the scheme, pharmacists in 23 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England will case-find and offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms from 1 October, before providing clinical and lifestyle advice or GP referral.

They will also provide cholesterol checks and use mobile electrocardiograms to help spot irregular heartbeats, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) added.

The national CVD pilot follows the success of locally-commissioned schemes in Lambeth and Southwark, Dudley and West Hampshire and Cheshire and Merseyside, NHS England said.

If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to all community pharmacies as a nationally funded service in 2021-22, PSNC said.

It comes as the NHS has said that community pharmacies could offer high-dose statins over the counter, under new plans.


‘Wider service ambitions’


PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: ‘The cardiovascular disease pilot in pharmacies is still in the planning stages, but it represents an important example of community pharmacy’s wider service ambitions and we are keen to see its commencement as soon as possible.

‘By making a success of pilots such as this, the sector will become more integrated with and valuable to the rest of the NHS, in particular supporting collaborative working across primary care networks.’

Under the new GP contract, practices are provided with extra funding to join local primary care networks (PCNs) serving roughly 30-50,000 patients that will work collaboratively with non-GP providers such as community pharmacies.

In May, NHS England said that contractors could deliver some parts of the GP contract service specifications such as early detection and prevention of CVD as part of their increasing clinical role.

The hypertension service development pilot is ‘just one of a range of new services’ to be piloted over the next five years as part of the community pharmacy contract, PSNC added.