Community pharmacies are ‘undervalued’ and ‘underused’ resources which could deliver significant improvements for public health if they are used and resourced in a better way, a new report says.
Produced by a task group of the national Pharmacy and Public Health Forum, Health on the high street states that there is growing evidence that community pharmacies have the potential to play a major role in improving and maintaining the nation’s health, but are currently undervalued.
It calls on organisations that commission and provide NHS services, as well as patients and the public, to explore the full potential of community pharmacies – frequently in the heart of local communities – to deliver public health services.
The report recommends that commissioners invest more in community pharmacies as a channel for delivering public health services tailored to local people’s needs.
Health and the high street also calls for clinical commissioning groups, NHS England, local authorities and health and wellbeing boards to develop a coherent approach to commissioning public health services from community pharmacies, following the implementation of NHS reforms which split responsibility for commissioning across multiple organisations.
Dr Johnny Marshall, NHS Confederation director of policy, said: “Local pharmacies are often uniquely placed at the heart of the community, whether on the high street, in supermarkets, or in the village square. But we are not currently making the most of the expertise or access they offer in terms of being able to deliver public health services, like screening and treatment, right into people’s everyday lives.
“We need to think of community pharmacy services as a core element of the whole range of options and avenues offered by the NHS, and make full use of them to increase the range of ways local people can get the support they need to live healthy lives.”
The task group was commissioned by the Department of Health to consider how best to commission public health services from community pharmacy in the reformed NHS.
The Pharmacy and Public Health Forum includes representatives from:
- Royal Pharmaceutical Society
- Company Chemists’ Association
- National Pharmacy Association
- Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee
- Faculty of Public Health
- Association of Directors of Public Health
- Royal Society for Public Health
- General Pharmaceutical Council