Collaboration key to expanding public health role

A new report entitled ’Building Capacity’, published today (November 29) by the Royal Society for Public Health and Public Health England, has identified a number of opportunities and challenges for community pharmacy teams to further support the public’s health.

Read the full report here.

The report identifies a clear appetite among pharmacy teams to enhance their public health role – almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents said that the sector is under-utilised – but points to some challenges as well. Pharmacy respondents in non-healthy living pharmacies were more likely to say they are being under-utilised (82 per cent), compared to those in healthy living pharmacies (63 per cent).

Key opportunities identified by pharmacy teams included greater utilisation of pharmacy services taking account of pharmacies’ location, environment, accessibility, extended opening hours and convenience, the trust that the public and commissioners place in pharmacy, and evidence of effectiveness.

Other opportunities centred on the breadth of locations in which community pharmacy provides services and engagement in pharmacy-based screening for type 2 diabetes, NHS health checks and smoking cessation.

Challenges include insufficient staff numbers (51 per cent), insufficient training and lack of appropriate facilities, and a lack of awareness among the public of the range of services pharmacies provide. For instance, only around half of the public were aware that pharmacies provide flu vaccination services (51 per cent), emergency hormonal contraception (48 per cent) and NHS health checks (44 per cent).

Frustration with the commissioning process was also considered a key challenge, with under a third of pharmacy teams (30 per cent) stating that they had received “pushback” from GPs on being commissioned to provide services. Of those who had received pushback, 92 per cent of this was in relation to the flu vaccination.

The report highlights a number of recommendations aimed at increasing collaboration and the profile of pharmacy. These include:

  • Commissioners to recognise pharmacy as a local health asset, enhancing their understanding of the profession through increased pharmacy visits and greater engagement with the local pharmacy leadership
  • For every community pharmacy to have at least one health champion and, where lack of staff or affordability is an issue, for pharmacies to consider alternative training options
  • Greater joint working between community pharmacy teams and GPs, including improved communication channels, joint meetings and increased integration between the two professions.

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    Thanks for your comments both - Richard ...

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