Pharmacy Voice welcomes RSPH calls for greater role for community pharmacy in public health

Elizabeth Wade, Director of Policy for Pharmacy Voice, has today welcomed a new report from the Royal Society for Public Health, which sets out its proposals for realising the potential of community pharmacies to help improve the public’s health.

Based on a recognition of their track record of health promoting interventions, their place at the heart of local communities and the trust and support they hold with the public, the report includes recommendations that:

  • Commissioners enhance their understanding of community pharmacies as local health assets, including through increased pharmacy visits and greater engagement with the local pharmacy leadership
  • Local authorities consider the contribution of Healthy Living Pharmacies to promoting health and wellbeing and seek to increase the number of community pharmacies accredited in their area
  • Greater joint working between community pharmacy teams and GPs is promoted and supported
  • Local pharmacy leaders are more engaged with commissioners and other stakeholder, and more involved in local system leadership and planning

Commenting on the publication, Ms Wade said:

‘The report highlights that community pharmacies offer an ideal location to reach out to local communities, with trusted, qualified teams providing healthy lifestyle advice and services in an accessible and convenient way.  It also demonstrates the appetite of pharmacy teams for adopting a greater public health role, as well as the challenges they currently face in achieving this.

‘In outlining these challenges, the report gets to the heart of the issues many of our members encounter as they seek to expand their role in public health delivery.  The absence of community pharmacy leaders within local planning processes, alongside a lack of awareness and understanding amongst commissioners and the public, present real barriers to unlocking the potential that community pharmacy teams have to offer.  These problems will only be exacerbated over the coming months as pharmacy teams grapple with cuts to their NHS funding which could lead to a reduction in staffing and services, threatening exactly those the assets described in the Society’s report as so valuable to the public.

‘The proposals put forward today by the RSPH would be important steps toward overcoming these challenges; In particular, the inclusion of pharmacy representatives in local strategic planning. We urge local public health and community pharmacy leaders to consider together how they could be implemented in their own systems, and call on Government and national bodies to support this through the development of nation ally commissioned public health services and investment in the community pharmacy workforce.

Ms Wade added:

‘The vision the society presents for the future of pharmacy in public health echoes that set out in the Community Pharmacy Forward View, which we recently published in partnership with PSNC and with the support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.  In this we describe one of the core roles of the future community pharmacy as the neighbourhood health and wellbeing hub. We are delighted to see the sector’s own ambitions are reflected in the RSPH’s work, and look forward to working with the Society to ensure they are realised.’

Notes:

The RSPH report Building Capacity: Realising the potential of community pharmacy assets for improving the public’s health can be read here:

https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/wider-workforce/pharmacies-in-the-community.html

The Community Pharmacy Forward View can be viewed online here:

http://pharmacyvoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Community-Pharmacy-Forward-View-FINAL.pdf