An audit report published by Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) on Tuesday suggests that community pharmacies can do more to detect high blood pressure if they are better commissioned to provide such checks.

The one-week audit was carried out in 2017 and data were collected from 5,220 pharmacies from seven of the largest national multiple pharmacy chains. The pharmacies recorded 221,091 interactions related to blood pressure and 30,169 instances where a blood pressure measurement was taken in the pharmacy.

 “This audit shows how community pharmacies are already helping to improve the cardiovascular health of the people and patients they serve. It is particularly encouraging that thousands of people with high or pre-high blood pressure have been discovered and referred onwards appropriately,” Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the CCA, said.

The practice-based audit highlights the facilities and services currently offered in community pharmacies and examines the interactions that occurred between pharmacy teams and the public in relation to blood pressure.

Over half of the interactions directly related to the patient’s medication and one in three of the readings being categorized as pre-high. 82.31% of pharmacies audited had blood pressure monitors on sale for customers to purchase and self-test at home.

“This is why we are calling for more blood pressure services to be commissioned through community pharmacy, as either standalone services or via NHS Health Checks. With the new GP contract, and the establishment of Primary Care Networks, there is now the opportunity for community pharmacies to work with GP practices to collaboratively support patients’ easy access to blood pressure measurement services via their local pharmacy,” Harrison added.

The audit also demonstrates the role of community pharmacies as the first port of call for patients and the provision of healthy living advice to prevent the development of hypertension in at-risk groups.