John Smith is chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB)
Last year, Pharmacy Voice and PSNC, with support from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, released their vision for the future of community pharmacy in the shape of the Community Pharmacy Forward View (CPFV) and followed this with the Making it Happen document in January. The vision aims to integrate pharmacy teams into the wider health and care services to help improve quality and access for patients, increase NHS efficiency and produce better health outcomes for all.
I welcome the CPFV, and PAGB is keen to help support its implementation. We believe that pharmacy has a central role to play in the delivery of healthcare services and there needs to be a clear plan for the pharmacy sector, defining what it will deliver and how it will be resourced. Pharmacy should be recognised as offering accessible healthcare on the high street and we are actively calling for policies that will enable pharmacy to support more people to self care to reduce the burden on GP and A&E services.
One part of the vision is to make pharmacy the ‘trusted, convenient first port of call for episodic healthcare advice and treatment’. This couldn’t be more important, but there is still a long way to go before this is the norm. PAGB’s Self Care Nation research last year revealed that 47 per cent of people wouldn’t visit a pharmacy in the first instance for advice or medication for a self-treatable condition, with one in five of these feeling that their pharmacist wasn’t as qualified as a doctor or nurse. This shows that the public needs more education and support to help them feel confident in visiting the pharmacy first and in managing their own self-treatable conditions.
We have been calling for government, through NHS England and Public Health England, to partner with the pharmacy sector in a national public education campaign to raise awareness of pharmacy services and what they can offer and when it is the appropriate time to use them.
More also needs to be done to make community pharmacy an integral part of the urgent care system and improve integration across services. PAGB believes community pharmacy should be able to ‘write’ in patient records so that any medication or advice given can be recorded, maintaining continuity of care for the individual and ensuring professionals in other health settings can take this into account.
I am convinced people would have more confidence in visiting the pharmacy first if they knew they would leave with either medicine or advice to make them feel better, or a referral to/appointment with another healthcare professional. PAGB has, therefore, called for pharmacy to be able to refer people who need medical attention to the appropriate healthcare professional – fast-tracked if necessary.
To deliver change, leaders within the community pharmacy sector, local and national commissioners, health and care partners, national pharmacy bodies and other stakeholders, need to work together to secure the future of the pharmacy and to elevate the pharmacist’s role in helping people understand and manage their health throughout their lifetime. At PAGB, we stand ready to help