NHS England has announced that pharmacists are set to offer rapid detection and help for killer conditions like heart disease, as part of a "major revamp" of high street pharmacy services.
The heart checks will be part of a target set by the NHS to prevent tens of thousands of strokes and heart attacks over the next ten years, as part of the Long Term Plan.
The organisation confirmed in a statement that plans are underway for both GPs and community pharmacists to lead the fight against common conditions that cause cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke, building on successful pilots which have already reduced strokes by a quarter.
As part of a new £13 billion five-year contract, from October 31st community pharmacists will start to develop and test an early detection service to identify people who may have undiagnosed high-risk conditions like high blood pressure for referral for further testing and treatment.
If successful it could be rolled out to all community pharmacies in 2021-22.
England’s top doctor, Professor Stephen Powis, explained that “Heart disease and strokes dramatically cut short lives, and leave thousands of people disabled every year, so rapid detection of killer conditions through High street heart checks will be a game-changer.”
He also said that “Reducing lifestyle risks and treating high-risk conditions such as smoking, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity are key to preventing serious ill health, and the NHS Long Term Plan will help people take positive action for their own wellbeing, while investing in life-changing services, close to home, when ill health hits.”
Accelerating prevention of life-threatening illness such as heart attack and stroke is central to the NHS Long Term Plan and, in addition to a substantial commitment to tackle obesity, alcohol dependence and smoking, the blueprint for the health service outlines an ambition to tackle CVD, affecting six million people and accounting for a quarter of deaths in England and costing the NHS £7 billion a year.