Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was given a clean bill of health when he provided an “extremely fit” blood pressure reading during a visit to a pharmacist to promote his plan to expand primary health care.
Pharmacist Peter Baillie asked the Conservative leader to roll up his sleeves for the test during a visit to Weston Lane Surgery in Weston, Southampton – the Hampshire city where the Prime Minister was brought up by his GP father and pharmacist mother – on Tuesday morning.
As the pressure monitor strap was put around his arm, Mr Sunak said he would need to relax and added: “It’s a good day when I have five minutes spare to relax.”
Afterwards, Mr Baillie, who is also a Conservative councillor, told him: “I have to say it’s an extremely fit reading considering the hassle you must be under. That is very good.”
Mr Sunak replied: “I am definitely very surprised by that.”
The visit was organised as the Government announced patients will be able to obtain prescription medicines, oral contraception and some other treatments directly from pharmacies to reduce pressure on GPs’ surgeries.
The Prime Minister added: “One of the things we are doing today is announcing more funding for you to do millions more of those so things can be picked up earlier and if you integrated, you can easily refer on.”
Mr Sunak also met patient Chris Johnson, who has arthritis, who had an appointment with anticoagulation nurse specialist Stephanie Smith.
Speaking of the practice, Ms Johnson told the Prime Minister: “They do so much. They help me a lot with my fitness. I have been coming for about eight weeks. I couldn’t even walk down the street, now I can walk and go swimming twice a week.”
Mr Sunak replied: “That’s one of the things we have been talking about, that holistic approach to care. There are lots of things you can get from a modern GP practice now – not just seeing the GP.”
Speaking to receptionists at the surgery, Mr Sunak said: “You guys do such an amazing job. This is how people access the NHS, it is primary care that is the front door – a modernised approach to primary care so patients get the care they need faster, which is great.”
He said he would be heading to visit his family in Southampton after leaving the surgery.