Health checks for killer conditions are now being offered in high street pharmacies after a pilot in Southwark saw the rate of one type of stroke cut by a quarter.
From October 1, community pharmacists will start offering the early detection tests so people can be referred for treatment at the earliest opportunity.
In a pilot scheme in Southwark and Lambeth, GPs, specialist nurses and pharmacies worked together to find patients who had been diagnosed with a condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AF), where they have irregular heart rhythms, but were not taking the medicine they needed.
In a twelve month period, 1,400 cases were reviewed across 92 practices, all of whom were not taking the medicines – anticoagulants – they needed to reduce their risk of stroke.
A total of 1,300 of them are now taking this treatment, which is estimated to prevent around 45 strokes per year.
The two CCGs have since seen a 25 per cent reduction in AF-related strokes.
The trial was so successful, the NHS has rolled out the project across the country with the help of a £9 million funding boost.
Helen Williams, consultant pharmacist for cardiovascular disease at Lambeth and Southwark Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We have seen a substantial increase in the number of patients with Atrial Fibrillation who are prescribed anticoagulant therapy, and an associated reduction in AF-related strokes.
“We are delighted that NHS England has invested in this model so that more patients across the country can benefit.”
“To support this approach, NHS England will commission a regular national primary care audit, called CVD prevent, making it easier for practices to systematically identify people whose treatment could be improved, and risk reduced.”