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Community pharmacy services

Government-backed plan supports greater role for pharmacy in management of high blood pressure

Community pharmacists should be commissioned to provide services that increase the detection and improve the management of people with high blood pressure or those who are at risk, according to recommendations in a government-backed action plan.

NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) should persuade clinical commissioning groups to invest in community pharmacy-based blood pressure services, says the report, ‘Tackling high blood pressure: from evidence into action’[1] by the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board, led by PHE.

Services could include providing information and support about blood pressure management to patients in the pharmacy, opportunistic screening, and routinely checking the blood pressure of patients prescribed anti-hypertensives as part of their medicines use review (MUR), the report says.

“Pharmacies are increasingly demonstrating their ability to support effective blood pressure control with studies suggesting improved medicine adherence as well as reductions in blood pressure levels as a result of pharmacist interventions,” the report says.

Blood pressure screening is also more cost effective in community pharmacy than in general practice, it points out.

The action plan follows new PHE figures that claim diseases caused by high blood pressure cost the NHS more than £2bn a year and account for 12% of all GP visits in England.

NHS and social care costs could be slashed by £120m in the next 10 years if 15% of people currently unaware that they have high blood pressure were successfully diagnosed, PHE predicts. A similar amount could be saved if 15% of patients with high blood pressure had their condition controlled.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20067211

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