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Community pharmacists need more powers to improve access to NHS services, NPA report says

The NPA carried out a survey of 1,003 patients, which found that 90% want community pharmacy to provide more NHS services because it is more convenient and would free up GP time.

Pharmacist accessing patient record via computer

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Survey respondents showed their support for more pharmacists to gain access to patient records because it is more convenient

More community pharmacists should have the power to start, stop or change patient’s medicines and be able to read and write in the patient record in order to improve access to NHS services, according to a report by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

The proposals follow the results of a survey carried out by the NPA in March 2018 about the future role of pharmacists in the NHS.

Of the 1,003 adult patients questioned, 90% wanted community pharmacy to provide more NHS services because it is more convenient and would also free up GP time.

Some 80% of respondents wanted the profession to be able to supply more treatments without the need for a prescription; the same number felt that NHS care overall had eroded in the past decade.

And 91% said community pharmacists could play a bigger role in medicines support for people with long-term conditions.

The results of the survey were published in the NPA’s ‘See You Sooner’ report which considers how the profession can help alleviate the “chronic” problems patients face accessing NHS services.

It said: “This is not just about self care and the treatment of minor ailments, vitally important though that is.

“The idea is to release more capacity into a NHS system that is under very severe strain, by developing community pharmacies as neighbourhood health and wellbeing centres — offering support which encompasses prevention, treatment for common ailments, health surveillance and the routine medicines management of long-term conditions.

Nitin Sodha, chair of the NPA, said the results of the survey confirmed that the public clearly understands that “local pharmacies are a solution to the NHS access crisis”.

Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, backed the proposal to allow community pharmacists to start, change or stop medicines.

But, she added, “that must be linked to pharmacists becoming prescribers in their own right and we would also need full interoperability of patient records so that GPs are fully aware of any intervention”. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204756

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