17 October 2023
People in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who may struggle to access health services are being invited to get their blood pressure checked through a new project focusing on equal access to high quality, evidence-based care.
Cardiovascular disease (a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) is a cause of heart attack and stroke, with high blood pressure being an indicator of disease. Funded by NHS England and supported by Health Innovation Wessex, project teams are working to identify areas of high deprivation or socially excluded groups in their communities who often experience unfair and avoidable differences in health, leading to poor health outcomes. This work is part of NHS England's Innovation in Healthcare Inequalities Programme (InHIP).
Hampshire's local GP networks, hospitals, community leaders and councils are encouraging blood pressure checks in the identified areas, with a series of clinics hosted in community settings. The clinics improve access to healthcare for people who are less likely to attend for traditional health checks, and can support ongoing care if their blood pressure readings need further monitoring.
Local news programme BBC South Today attended a Southampton wellbeing cafe on 17 October to find out more. Watch the headline piece below.
Video credit: BBC South Today
The clinics are operating in several locations to improve access to blood pressure screening. These include:
In Thornhill, Suzie Bravington from Living Well PCN and Astrid Vaswani, pastoral and community minister from Thornhill Baptist Church offer general health and blood pressure checks at the church’s wellbeing café. Conventional methods of taking blood pressure readings - using an inflating cuff around the arm – have been combined with a new technology which observes blood pressure, pulse rate and breathing rate simply by looking into a smartphone or tablet camera.
The new software, called Lifelight, has been positively received by people attending the clinic, engaging them with the idea of health innovation, and also supporting the company behind the idea to build a more accurate picture of its use in a real-world setting.
Thornhill Baptist Church minister Astrid said, "We are so grateful that the Wellbeing Café at Thornhill Baptist Church is a wonderful provision for people body, mind and spirit. Having a welcoming environment that offers connection with a range of community partners serves Thornhill so well, and our established relationship with social prescribers is mutually beneficial. We love our relationship with Living Well Partnership and are starting to build links with other practices too. The blood pressure checks along with mental health support, agencies to support those seeking employment, having housing difficulties or on an addiction journey means that the café is a wellness-focused venture. And the cake is good too! We look forward to more ways of working collaboratively with the NHS where opportunity arises."
Visit the Innovation in Healthcare Inequalities Programme.(InHIP) pages to find out more about our work supporting this project across the Wessex region. If you're an innovator with a great idea to improve health or social care, please contact us to learn more about the support available.