'Health MOTs' offered at pharmacies, clinics and NHS vaccinations services could save thousands of lives, a senior NHS executive has claimed.
Addressing the NHS Confederation conference on June 16, NHS England chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard spoke of plans to provide opportunities for additional health checks such as blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rhythm tests when patients prevent for non-related appointments – such as when they arrive for their second Covid-19 vaccination.
Over 1,000 strokes could be prevented by offering all over-65s an annual heart rhythm check, according to NHS estimates.
“The NHS is not just a sickness service but a health service which is why we want to make every contact count, using every opportunity to keep people well rather than just seeking to make them better,” said Ms Pritchard.
“We want to offer a fully integrated care system, where we can reach out to people in the communities they live in – not just diagnosing and treating conditions but working in partnership with the public and intervening before advanced disease occurs, keeping people healthy and well.”
“The checks – like the jabs – will be available in convenient locations in local communities including village halls, churches, mosques and local sports centres and prevent people becoming seriously ill.”
A number of pilots are currently taking place, including one where pharmacies offer patients heart checks to help identify those at risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Additionally, a blood pressure and heart rhythm test pilot is being run in a dentist in Leeds and a Croydon’s Vaxi Taxi has also been offering blood pressure checks, podiatry services and hepatitis C testing at community vaccination pop sites for homeless people in London.
These pilots set out to support the NHS Long Term Plan's ambition to prevent 150,000 strokes and heart attacks over the next ten years.
National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “We don’t yet have the details, but it makes sense for pharmacies to be part of any new initiatives to monitor heart health and cholesterol, given how accessible they are and their proven track record in preventative care.
“It looks like a chance to identify underlying health problems which may have been missed during the coronavirus lockdown, and highlights the important role pharmacies will have in the nation’s post-pandemic reset.
“We hope it’s not a one-off scheme limited to a select few pharmacies, but something that can be scaled to turbo-charge access to cardiac support through community pharmacy.
“Given the magnificent contribution of pharmacies throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it’s natural that they should be seen as a solution in other areas of prevention and public health too.”