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Unlocked value in self-care

Pharmacy News

Unlocked value in self-care

Many pharmacists believe that there is unlocked value in self-care, according to a new report from healthcare company Sanofi.

Some 77 per cent of the 250 pharmacists surveyed for the report say they would support the creation of a national self-care strategy to provide national leadership and improve understanding of self-care and its use among both patients and clinicians.

The report, entitled ‘Driving a self-care revolution in the UK’, suggests that the right tools and resources are not yet in place to enable pharmacists to play a greater role in delivering self-care advice and medicines to patients. Currently, 33 per cent of pharmacists working for independent or small pharmacy chains do not have the resources to support patients with self-care, alongside their other roles, it says.

To tackle this, close to half (45 per cent) of pharmacists believe greater emphasis by primary care practitioners on the benefits of self-care would leave them in a better place to support patients. Similarly, 42 per cent believe that recruiting more pharmacists would improve their capacity to deliver self-care advice.

There is also a challenge with access to medicines for pharmacists. The research found that close to a quarter (23 per cent) of pharmacists say they do not have a broad enough range of OTC medicines to meet patients’ needs. This figure increases dramatically among more experienced pharmacists, with 68 per cent of those qualified for more than 15 years agreeing they don’t have access to a broad enough range of OTC medicines.

Because of this, 70 per cent of pharmacists said they would support a review of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) current switching process to determine if improvements can be made that would deliver a better range of over-the-counter medicines for self-care.

The research also says that pharmacist reimbursement needs to evolve as self-care becomes more critical. Only a quarter (27 per cent) of pharmacists believe the current approach to reimbursement reflects the value provided by pharmacists in dispensing self-care, while over a third of pharmacists (35 per cent) believe the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service is not fit for purpose.

Pre-pandemic, some 18 million general practitioner appointments and 3.7 million accident and emergency visits were for minor ailments, at an estimated annual cost of £1.5 billion.

The report is based on a survey of 250 pharmacists across England conducted in June 2022, and a roundtable discussion between pharmacists, other healthcare professionals, doctors and patients.

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