HIGH street pharmacies will soon offer free, on-the-spot heart checks after a Dudley pharmacy successfully trialled a pilot to tackle heart disease.

Plans are underway for both GPs and community pharmacists to lead the fight against common conditions that cause cardiovascular disease and strokes, after a successful pilot reduced strokes by a quarter.

The pilot at the Priory Community Pharmacy in Dudley saw community pharmacist Olutayo Arikawe win a Parliamentary Award for Excellence in Healthcare following her work in offering free heart check-ups and helping patients with weight management and quitting smoking.

The Priory Road pharmacy was one of a handful to across the Black Country and Birmingham to trial the scheme, which health chiefs hope to roll out to community pharmacists across the region in 2021-22 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to prevent tens of thousands of strokes and heart attacks over the next ten years.

Dr Duncan Jenkins, pharmaceutical lead for the Black Country and West Birmingham, said: “The NHS Long Term Plan ambition is to give the public convenient access to the health care, help and advice that they really want, pharmacy’s play a key role in that. "In the Black Country and West Birmingham we are making the most of the clinical skills of local pharmacists, increasing access to services in the evenings and at weekends and ensuring that more of our pharmacies offer the full range of health advice and services. The new contract and initiatives such as heart checks highlight the opportunity for pharmacies in the future.”

Under the plans, community pharmacists will help identify people who may have undiagnosed cardiovascular disease for onward referral for further testing and treatment.