Community pharmacy contractors have carried out more than 100,000 blood pressure checks since the NHS Blood Pressure Check Service began in October 2021.

The latest data from the NHS Business Service Authority shows contractors have provided 115,419 clinic blood pressure checks to patients, and 4,902 patients have received ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), from when the service was launched up until March 2022.

The number of contractors providing the service continues to rise and so far, over 7,200 community pharmacy contractors have signed up to provide blood pressure checks.

Alastair Buxton, PSNC director of NHS Services, said it is ‘great to see that many pharmacy teams’ ‘fully engaging’ with the service and that more plan to do so over the next few months, as it has potential to ‘make a difference’ to individual and community health and reduce health inequalities.

He said: ‘Pharmacy teams [are] well placed to play a greater part in tackling cardiovascular disease, alongside general practice colleagues.’

The service, also known as the NHS Hypertension Case-Finding Service, aims to identify people over the age of 40 who have previously not been diagnosed with hypertension, and to refer those with suspected hypertension for appropriate management.

It also promotes healthy behaviours to new service users and refers people identified as likely to have high blood pressure to general practice, for ongoing care to manage their blood pressure.

According to NHS England, through the service, community pharmacists will ‘opportunistically’ measure the blood pressure of consenting adults who come into the pharmacy, by offering anyone a free blood pressure check who:

  • Appears to be over the age of 40
  • Has not previously been identified as having hypertension or a related condition
  • Has not had their blood pressure measured by a health professional within the previous six months

At the end of a consultation, where readings indicate:

  • Normal blood pressure - the pharmacist will promote healthy behaviours
  • High blood pressure - the pharmacist will offer ABPM from the pharmacy and will also promote healthy behaviours
  • Very high blood pressure - the pharmacist will urgently refer the patient to see their GP within 24 hours and the pharmacist will inform the patient’s GP practice by NHS mail or via another locally agreed platform
  • Low blood pressure - the pharmacist will provide appropriate advice and may also refer the patient to their GP if there are any concerns.

The hypertension service was introduced as part of year three of the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework alongside a smoking cessation service.

In April, Boots revealed it is offering customers over the age of 40 free blood pressure checks in store as part of the NHS initiative to tackle high rates of undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.