North West Ambulance Service has piloted a scheme in Greater Manchester which is helping to identify previously unrecognised cases of hypertension, with the initiative set to be rolled out region-wide in the future.

The pilot involved the analysis of data of patients that the ambulance service cared for, who had a high blood pressure reading during onsite clinical observations. If the patient was not required to be transported to hospital, their blood pressure data was shared with the local primary care networks, prompting a later call for a review by their GP to check their blood pressure again. If hypertension was identified an appropriate treatment plan was put in place.

The process involved the use of secure email data transfer of electronic patient records.

Medical director for North West Ambulance Service, Chris Grant said: “This project really highlights how we’re using advancements, such as our electronic patient records, to work together with our partners within the NHS to make a real difference to the health of our patients.

“Learning from this pilot will help us to improve our data sharing processes and understand the potential of this in supporting prevention in other areas. Preliminary data analysis has also indicated hypertension rates were significantly higher in most deprived areas, so we’ll pay particular attention to whether this work can also support in reducing health inequalities.”

Following the pilot it was determined that the service was able to identify 14 new cases of hypertension, borderline cases or cases needing management review from the 71 records that were shared.

This means that there is the potential for around 500 new cases of hypertension to be diagnosed through the sharing of high blood pressure readings with primary care networks in the region in just one month.

Work is now underway to scale up the pilot, in collaboration with integrated care boards and cardiovascular prevention groups, including GPs and community pharmacies.

North West Ambulance Service is also working with health and local authority partners from North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System to explore ways of automatically sharing blood pressure data from all North West Ambulance Service patients in North Cumbria who don’t require hospitalisation.

High blood pressure is a major factor in heart attacks and strokes. The government has announced it will be rolling out a digital NHS health check from next spring – which will include blood pressure measurements – and will help deliver an additional one million health checks over four years, in addition to the current NHS health Check.