Free pharmacy health checks

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Free pharmacy health checks
20/11/2017

NHS SHOULD PROVIDE FREE PHARMACY HEALTH CHECKS FOR ALL ADULTS TO REVERSE BRITAINíS CRISIS OF LONG-TERM DISEASE, SAYS NEW REPORT

Community Pharmacy should provide health checks for all working-age adults including blood pressure checks, in order to reverse Britain’s rise in long-term disease, according to a new report launched by leading think tank ResPublica, and supported by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

The new report ‘Heartbeats on the High Street: how Community Pharmacy can transform Britain’s Health, Wealth and Wellbeing’, argues that with unprecedented strain on the NHS through rising long-term conditions and an increasing population, and doctors and hospitals struggling to meet capacity, Community Pharmacy is a transformative solution for the health and wellbeing of our country.

A system in crisis needs radical ideas for change. Doctors and hospitals are vital in the fight against disease, but they cannot be expected to carry the burden of unhealthy lifestyles and long-term conditions like obesity, hypertension and diabetes. This report argues the need for a local, people-focussed resource that can tackle these conditions at root. And because many of these conditions are linked to problems of social and economic deprivation – with Britain’s top 5 cities for cardiovascular disease also being in the top 5 per cent for deprivation – an institution that is embedded within our most disadvantaged communities is needed. 

The report argues that Community Pharmacy is that institution. It is embedded on high streets in every part of the country. It is staffed by a network of clinically-trained professionals. And it has the capacity to prevent and manage conditions that cost the taxpayer millions of pounds each year. Cardiovascular disease alone costs the UK £8bn per annum, through costs to society the wider economy. By preventing the levels of CVD in deprived neighbourhoods Community Pharmacy can play a significant role in reducing that cost.

To achieve this, the report calls for a greater role for Community Pharmacy in the fight for good public health. It recommends giving Community Pharmacy leadership in preventing and managing long-term conditions, by making NHS health checks for the over-40s available to the whole adult population.

In other words, pharmacy health checks for all adults, including hard-to-reach communities, could reduce the rise of long-term conditions and would unlock a range of social and economic benefits for the country.

Despite these advantages, Community Pharmacy continues to suffer cuts from Government and a lack of parity within the NHS. Pharmacies are looked on as a “poor man’s GP” at a time when they should be seen as the first port of call for Britain’s health crisis. This Autumn, Lloyds Pharmacy announced the closure of almost 200 stores.

The report argues that there is an urgent need to reverse this trend and to make better use of the unique role of Community Pharmacy. In ‘Heartbeats on the High Street’, it describes this unique role as the ‘social capital of Community Pharmacy’. By putting pharmacies at the heart of public health, our report argues that they should be at the forefront of Government thinking localism, communities and social equality.

Sir Kevin Barron, Chair of the Health Select Committee 2005-2010 and Chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group said: “The NHS is in need of radical change. As we face the prospect of another winter crisis, we cannot keep repeating the same old debate over GP capacity, long-term conditions and primary care reform. What we need is a vision that includes all of the resources we have at our disposal, and puts them to use in a truly integrated way. This report makes a valuable contribution to the debate over how our healthcare institutions can better serve the wellbeing of society. I commend ResPublica for their important and timely intervention”.

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK said:"Around one in three people in the UK are now living with high blood pressure which remains the single biggest cause of death. What’s more, a shocking 6.5 million people still remain undiagnosed. Blood Pressure UK supports this health check initiative, as we encourage everyone to make a habit of knowing their blood pressure numbers,  as this is the first step to reducing their blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attack. If you start making small changes to your lifestyle when you are young such as eating less salt, more fruit and vegetables, taking more exercise and keeping to a healthy weight, you will stay healthier and prevent strokes and heart disease in the future."    

Notes to Editors:

The ResPublica Trust is an independent nonpartisan think tank. Through research, policy innovation and programmes, ResPublica seeks to establish a new economic, social and cultural settlement.

Heartbeats on the High Street is supported by the National Pharmacy Association. All conclusions and recommendations contained in the report are independent of the National Pharmacy Association.

This report is available to download from the ResPublica website as of 20 November 2017 and can also be downloaded below. For further details please contact Brendon Marsh at brendon.marsh@respublica.org.uk or call 020 3857 8324 or 07835 059469.

For all press enquiries contact Brendon Marsh on the above details.



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