Last reviewed 28 June 2022

NHS England (NHSE) has argued that GP practices should improve patient blood pressure control to reduce stroke rates and free up capacity in social care.

Stroke is the largest cause of adult disability and £4.5 billion a year is spent on social care for people who have had a stroke. This means that if the stroke rate goes up even slightly, there is “an enormous social care workforce implication”, according to NHSE National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Prevention Dr Shahed Ahmad.

Speaking at a recent NHSE GP webinar, Dr Shahed Ahmad said that the largest gains in tackling CVD are going to come from “blood pressure control”.

He said in the webinar that there were many reasons for taking CVD prevention just as seriously as the country has taken Covid-19 prevention, including and not least the “big burning platform” that is social care. He said if stroke rates can be brought down, then a huge amount of social care capacity can be freed up.

He added: “Our maximum interest at the moment is around blood pressure, so we would encourage you to focus on the blood pressure elements (of CVD prevention).” Supporting general practice with “an often non-general practitioner workforce” is a key part of NHSE’s “four point plan” to address a shortfall in blood pressure control.

Other key NHSE actions include:

  • using data to reduce unwarranted variation

  • prioritising “system leadership” for CVD prevention such as by funding ICS CVD leadership post

  • increasing public communications and education.

NHSE’s Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Prevention Recovery briefing provides an overview of how the NHS is restoring the detection, monitoring and treatment of CVD. It sets out the four high impact areas driving its national approach and outlines what this means for local NHS teams and patients.