Most community pharmacies in England will be able to offer a new Hypertension Case-Finding service as an advanced service from October, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced today (23 August).

The new service has been introduced as part of year three of the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework alongside a new smoking cessation service, the negotiating body said.

It also said that it was ‘pleased to have gained agreement on incentive payments that will come from outside core pharmacy funding’.

In the same announcement, PSNC said that funding for community pharmacy will remain at £2.592bn for 2021/22, despite calls for an increase due to additional financial pressures brought about by the pandemic.

The service itself will involve two stages: the first a ‘clinic check,’ which will involve identifying people at risk of hypertension and offering them blood pressure monitoring.

The second stage, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), will only be necessary if clinically indicated.

Contractors who adopt the service will receive a £440 set up fee, £15 for each clinic check and £45 for each ambulatory monitoring.

In addition, contractors will claim separation ‘incentive payments’ — introduced to encourage pharmacists to identify hypertension cases — once they have reached certain thresholds at specific times.

Once a pharmacy has delivered five ABPM interventions within the first year of launching the service they will be able to claim £1,000, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England (NHSE) and PSNC said in a joint letter sent to contractors today.

The Government-funded incentives will then reduce to £400 for 15 interventions during the second year of the service, and the same fee during the third year for delivering 20 interventions.

Smoking cessation advanced service

Pharmacies will be able to begin offering a smoking cessation advanced service from January 2022, the letter said.

NHS trusts will be able to refer patients being discharged from hospital to a community pharmacy of their choice to ‘continue their smoking cessation care pathway, including providing medication and behavioural support as required,’ the letter explained.

Unlike the Hypertension Case-Finding service, no additional incentive fee will be offered.

However, contractors will be able to claim a £1,000 set-up fee, £30 for the first consultation, £40 for the last consultation and a further £10 for each interim consultation.

Clare Kerr, head of healthcare policy and strategy at McKesson UK and PSNC negotiating team member, said: ‘The new Hypertension Case-Finding and Smoking Cessation Advanced Services finally start to bring to life the vision for pharmacy services that we have been advocating for many years.

‘There is much to be positive about on the service development front, and I’m looking forward to watching the sector prove itself in this new area.’

Thorrun Govind, Chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said: ‘There are some positive steps on supporting pharmacists’ clinical role, including blood pressure diagnosis, and the expansion of the New Medicines Service.

‘We know that community pharmacy can play a key role in helping manage increasing demand on the NHS, but collaboration and support for implementation will be key to making new services a success.’