A PCN-led pilot scheme intended to improve blood pressure monitoring at home has led to the rollout of 350,000 blood pressure monitors to all GP practices in the country.
The four-month pilot scheme, which launched at the end of 2020 in two primary care networks (PCNs), sought to support patients in remotely diagnosing and monitoring their own blood pressure.
Darlington PCN – one of the two pilot PCNs – initially saw 100 blood pressure monitors distributed across 11 GP practices in the area, according to North East and North Cumbria ICB.
Following the success of the scheme, NHS England supplied the PCN with an additional 350 monitoring machines from NHS England, with all GP practices across Tees Valley now signed up to the programme, Care @ Home.
The ICB also said: ‘The success of the four-month pilot scheme, introduced at the end of 2020, has since seen the roll out of over 350,000 blood pressure monitors to all GP practices across the country.’
It is estimated that 3.3 million people in England live with undiagnosed high blood pressure, with adults over 40 encouraged to have their blood pressure tested at least every five years or annually if they have any lifestyle risk factors.
Professor Ahmet Fuat, GP with special interest in cardiology, Darlington, said: ‘Our Blood Pressure @ Home pilot scheme was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, when fewer people were able to visit a GP and we were seeing a large reduction in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients with high blood pressure.’
He added that this ‘then allowed doctors to diagnose and control any high blood pressure issues by tweaking medication and making patients aware of any contributory lifestyle factors’.
Professor Fuat also said: ‘Currently the NHS England target for patients to have their high blood pressure controlled is 80 percent,’ said Professor Fuat.
‘Pre-pandemic (2019/2020) this figure was 69.8% and during the pandemic (2020/2021) 61.4%.
‘Since the Blood Pressure @ Home pilot scheme was introduced, Darlington has achieved 74 percent – we still have a lot of work to do but our results are encouraging and above the current national average of 70 percent.’
Dave Gallagher, the ICB’s executive director of place based delivery, Central and Tees Valley, said: ‘As an ICB we are focused on delivering improvements across all our services, as well as tackling inequalities and improving the overall health and wellbeing of our communities.
‘Therefore, our aim is to take this learning and expand the programme across the whole of the North East and North Cumbria.
‘Having more points of access for people to get tested will not only help to free up GP appointments and reduce pressures on general practice, it will also empower patients to ‘know their numbers’, monitor their own health, get treatment when needed and ultimately save many lives.’