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Community Pharmacies ‘underutilised’ in Public Health

A new report published by the Public Health England and the Royal Society for Public Health has found that pharmacies suppose that they are being underutilised when they have many more to offer to support public health.

The report, 'Building Capacity', surveyed the extent to which community pharmacy teams are supporting the public’s health whilst evaluating opportunities and challenges they face. The report was based on research conducted in early 2016. It revealed that nearly three-quarters of respondents from across the country's almost 12,000 pharmacies supposed that the community pharmacy sector was being underutilised.

The chief executive of Royal Society for Public Health, Shirley Cramer said that pharmacies have a “clear passion” to support the public’s health, but challenges for pharmacies do exist which stop them from doing so, specially at the commissioning stage.

She further added that the role of Pharmacists and their contribution is recognised by all parts of the local health system. The Royal Society for Public Health had support initiatives aimed at increasing cooperation, particular with GPs and giving greater importance to pharmacy on local Health and Wellbeing Boards.

However, respondents also said that they suffered from inadequate staff members, a shortage of representation on their local Health and Wellbeing Board, training and facilities and even resistance from GPs on being commissioned to deliver services, especially in relation to the flu vaccination.

Most of the patients prefer to visit a GP due to lack of understanding of the services pharmacies provide and they believes that GP have greater connectivity of the service. Only about half of the public are aware of service offered by pharmacies.

The chair of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum (PPHF), Jonathan McShan said that it's a time to stop talking about the possible of community pharmacy in relation to public health and start grabbing the opportunities. The new report not only shows what more community pharmacy can do but also the difficulties that currently stop them from making the most of the community pharmacy network consistently across the country.

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