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Pharmacies put patients first

A study by Pharmacy Voice has provided new insight into how community pharmacy teams use their clinical judgement to support the best interests of their customers when supplying over-the-counter medications – even when this means losing a sale.

Data from the study found that community pharmacies in England chose to provide alternatives to the sale of OTC products, when this was in the best interests of the patient, on over 13 million occasions last year.

The figures form part of an annual practice-based audit that pharmacy teams must undertake, with nearly half of the country’s 11,700 pharmacies choosing to complete the Pharmacy Voice version– the fifth the organisation has conducted.

The most common reason for not supplying an OTC product was because the pharmacy team provided advice instead. Other reasons included suspected misuse, unsuitability or legal reasons, as well as clinical referrals to general practice or other healthcare providers.

Pharmacy Voice will now use the evidence collected during the audit to support its ongoing discussions with the Department of Health on their proposals to cut NHS funding for community pharmacy and introduce more automated services.

Commenting on the results of the audit, Pharmacy Voice’s chief executive, Rob Darracott, said: “This year’s survey provides yet more insight into how community pharmacists and their teams continue to make use of their clinical expertise and put patient need ahead of commercial interests. The data also shows the role that community pharmacies are playing as the first port of call in supporting the public to care for themselves, helping to reduce demand and pressure on other services such as GPs.

“We hope that the Government considers the lynchpin role that community pharmacy plays in the local healthcare community when reviewing their pharmacy reform proposals.”

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