How DIY blood pressure checks empower patients and free up GP time

For the past six months, people across Wandsworth have been checking their own blood pressure on machines they keep at home with support from doctors. It’s a simple but radical move, that puts people in control of their own health – and it came about, partly, as a result coronavirus.

According to Wandsworth GP Dr Caroline Scott, the project follows the huge shift in the way people have accessed healthcare since the pandemic.

How DIY blood pressure checks empower patients and free up GP time

“The way that primary care is working has really changed, meaning those touch points where people had an opportunity to check their blood pressure have gone. People used to come to their practice for all sorts of reasons – to pick up their prescriptions, for example. They would check their blood pressure on the machine in the hallway, or they would have it checked at their pharmacy. But the world has moved on. Prescriptions go electronically straight to the pharmacy and are often delivered to their house.”

Around 1,250 blood pressure monitors have been given to GP practices for people across Wandsworth with other patients acquiring their own. Doctors and nurses from local practices support them to use the machines, understand what their readings mean and submit them.

As Caroline explained: “We focus on people who haven’t been having their blood pressure checked in the past 18 months and are known to have a history of hypertension or are receiving treatment.

“It’s empowering to patients, who are often aware of their readings for the first time, and it’s an effective use of our time. I think it’s quite awesome. We’re giving the machines to people who we are particularly keen to monitor, but there’s a side benefit. People aren’t just checking their own blood pressure, they’re checking their wives, husbands, dads, brothers … which would never have happenedbefore.”