Pharmacists based in GP practices across England will take part in a £9 million scheme to identify people with atrial fibrillation (AF) in an attempt to prevent strokes.
NHS England, who are running the programme until March next year, said reviews of GP records will be carried out by who they describe as “specialist anticoagulation” pharmacists and nurses to find people at a high risk of suffering a stroke.
Those identified will have a face-to-face conversation or telephone or skype talk with a pharmacist or anticoagulation nurse and GP to determine a personalised treatment plan for the patient.
It is hoped the programme, which will provide checks to nearly 20,000 people across 23 areas of the country through those virtual clinics, will prevent 700 strokes and around 200 deaths.
More than 147,000 people in England with AF and at risk of stroke are not receiving anticoagulants according to NHS Digital.
“This is a great step in the right direction. We’re pleased that pharmacists now have the tools to spot people most likely to have a stroke, so that they can be supported and spared the devastation stroke brings,” said Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association.
“Most people don’t know if they have atrial fibrillation and we’d like to see more speaking with a pharmacist or visiting their GPs to get checked.”
A 12-month pilot of the scheme run by Lambeth and Southwark clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) identified 947 patients from 1,500 reviewed who were not receiving anticoagulants, with 1,200 of those patients now anticoagulated.
As a result, the CCGs have seen a 25% reduction in AF-related stroke rates.
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