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Pfizer launches Vascular Health Check service

Pfizer has launched its pharmacy-based Vascular Health Check service, intended to help prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes each year

Pfizer has launched its pharmacy-based Vascular Health Check service, which is intended to help prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes each year.

The service will be available through local settings such as community pharmacies, with Primary Care Trusts in England rolling out the NHS Health Check programme, after the success of a pilot pharmacy-based study. The service will be made available to all Primary Care Organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, once a decision has been taken on the implementation of the NHS Health Check programme in these regions.

Pfizer's pilot study of 338 patients – involving seven community pharmacy centres across the UK - revealed that two-thirds of those at risk of a heart attack or stroke say that they would not take their screening tests at their GP surgery, showing the need to run high-quality services in other settings alongside traditional GP services.

Dr Fran Sivers, chief executive of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society comments: "GPs alone do not have the capacity to undertake all the screening tests required each year by the Government. Running vascular health checks (the NHS Health Check) in settings such as a community pharmacy, and then targeting referrals of at-risk patients to general practice, encourages a more co-ordinated and cost-efficient approach to vascular disease prevention."

Sivers added: "It ensures that GPs treat more of the high-risk patients and members of the primary healthcare team manage the diet and lifestyle aspects of vascular prevention, to help even more people stay healthy for longer."

The pilot results showed a pharmacy-based programme was particularly successful in engaging hard-to-reach populations who rarely consult a doctor. It shows that 26 per cent of those in the pilot had not visited their GP in over a year, and 66 per cent of those screened stated they were unlikely, or very unlikely, to have made a similar screening appointment at their GP practice.

The pilot also shows that 15 per cent of those screened were deemed to be at elevated risk of a heart attack or stroke and were referred to their GP for further investigation according to the locally agreed guidelines.

The Pfizer Vascular Health Check Service is a commercial support service that aims to provide primary care organisations with a comprehensive solution they need to deliver a high quality vascular health check within a variety of settings by supplying all the equipment, consumables, training, IT, service support and audit processes required. The software solution provided by Advanced Computer Software guides pharmacists and clinicians through the Health Check procedure, calculates patient risk factors, suggests courses of action and relays information about the test securely back to the patient's GP.

Samiah Tambra, pharmacist at the Mid-Counties Co-Operative Pharmacy, Wolverhampton, who participated in the pilot said: "This pilot programme was highly motivating for my pharmacy staff, and shows that community pharmacies are capable of delivering quality screening services, which benefit the patient and local GP practices. Pharmacies can take the screening burden from GPs whilst reaching many more people who would not normally engage with their doctor."

With approximately 25 million people estimated to be in the 40-74 age category in the UK, every primary care organisation will need to check approximately 20,000 people every year  under the proposal to introduce Health Checks as a legal right within the NHS Constitution.

Primary Care Organisations that commission Pfizer's Vascular Health Check Service in pharmacy can benefit from securing additional capacity that will ultimately help support local GP services with a cost-effective and high quality service.

Steve Poulton, commercial director and head of the established products business unit at Pfizer UK concludes: "Vascular Health Checks have a clear benefit in identifying at-risk patients for appropriate intervention, but it is essential to engage the hard-to-reach patients, especially those who rarely, if ever, visit their doctor. Pfizer are ready to work with Primary Care Organisations to deliver these tests with a proven cost-effective service, and community-based locations such as pharmacy are the ideal places to hold these screening services."

In association with the Health Service Journal, Pfizer will be hosting a roundtable webcast on implementing Vascular Health Checks in community settings on Monday June 28, 9:30-10:30am.

To register for the free webcast or for more information visit Health Service Journal

7th June 2010

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