‘Tackling High Blood Pressure through Community Pharmacy’: new report published

Pharmacy Voice, with the support of Public Health England (PHE), has today released ‘Tackling High Blood Pressure through Community Pharmacy’, a new report on how the community pharmacy sector can expand and enhance its contribution to the national agenda around preventing, detecting and managing hypertension.

The official launch took place during the 2017 Pharmacy Voice Forum on Community Pharmacy: the neighbourhood health and wellbeing hub, an event that prompted lively discussion on the central role of community pharmacy in public health promotion among thought leaders within community pharmacy, local government, the NHS, patient groups, academia and beyond. Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE National Director for Health and Wellbeing welcomed the report’s recommendations in his keynote address, while Associate Professor Jamie Waterall, PHE National Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Chair of the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board, outlined how this work will contribute to the national action plan for tackling high blood pressure.

The report highlights existing best practice in tackling high blood pressure through community pharmacy that readers could adopt within their organisations or communities to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. It makes twelve recommendations for maximising the community pharmacy contribution to preventing, detecting and managing hypertension, recommending that:

1.     A framework is developed and supported by national leadership bodies, to help embed and sustain commissioned public health services that tackle high blood pressure across the community pharmacy network.

2.     A long-term, coordinated blood pressure awareness campaign is planned and delivered across the community pharmacy network, as part of a whole-system national initiative.

3.     All STP leads, local commissioners and primary care providers integrate community pharmacy based blood pressure testing and diagnosis into their disease prevention and management strategies.

4.     All community pharmacies are equipped with a validated blood pressure monitor and have staff trained in how to use them effectively.

5.     Commissioning of NHS Health Checks from community pharmacy is more actively promoted and supported

6.     Partnerships between employers and community pharmacy teams to deliver workplace health initiatives are encouraged and supported.

7.     Primary care organisations and CCGs take action to ensure medicines-related support and advice for people taking antihypertensive medicines is better coordinated between general practice and community pharmacy.

8.     The extension of community pharmacy blood pressure services to include commencement of treatment and management of diagnosed hypertension is tested and evaluated.

9.     Community pharmacy teams are encouraged to increase their support of home blood pressure testing and monitoring.

10.   Community pharmacy teams are enabled to access and share data (with consent) via an integrated patient records system, and to exchange electronic referrals with GPs and other healthcare providers.

11.   Current community pharmacy practice in relation to blood pressure prevention, testing, diagnosis and management is audited.

12.   A programme of research and evaluation is established to ensure the outcomes of community pharmacy-based interventions to tackle high blood pressure are monitored and understood.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Elizabeth Wade, Pharmacy Voice Director of Policy, said:

“Tackling high blood pressure is a national public health priority in England, and community pharmacy is ideally placed to help address the problem. This report outlines some important ways the sector can work with public health teams, other primary care providers and their community partners to help people maintain healthy lifestyles and better control their blood pressure.  It highlights the opportunities for making best use of the sector’s unique place within their neighbourhoods, and demonstrates to policy makers and commissioners that the benefits of integrating community pharmacy in local cardiovascular disease prevention and management programmes are significant and worth the investment. The twelve recommendations included in the report are ambitious but practical proposals for how we could maximise the community pharmacy offering in tackling high blood pressure.  We hope that they will promote both debate and, more importantly, action within the sector and from national and local partners as we work together to meet this challenge.

Jamie Waterall, National Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Public Health England commented:

“There are 5.5 million people with undiagnosed high blood pressure in England, making it the third biggest cause of early death and ill health.

“Clearly more action is needed and I welcome this new report which showcases the important work pharmacy teams are doing to address the condition and explores new opportunities to better promote prevention, detection and management of high blood pressure.”

Professor Anthony Heagerty, Head of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the Manchester University and member of the Blood Pressure System Leadership Board, said:

“The report positions Community Pharmacy exactly where it should be in the detection and management of hypertension and makes sensible suggestions on how to achieve these aims. The link between individuals, their pharmacy interaction and their primary care physician will need to be strengthened if the positive impact from these good ideas is to be maximised, but the report lays out a blueprint that offers significant benefits to patients and primary care as a whole.”

Dr Matt Kearney, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England, added:

“I am encouraged by the ambition shown in this report, which demonstrates the full scope of both the public health and clinical roles of community pharmacists, and the extended role they and their teams could play in tackling high blood pressure.  As we strive to make community pharmacy ever more integrated with the wider NHS, I look forward to seeing the recommendations from this report implemented, and to exploring even more ideas on how the sector can maximise its contribution to cardiovascular disease prevention, and to population health and wellbeing.”

To view the blood pressure report, click here