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Patient consultation

Pharmacies in Scotland provide 84,000 'advice-only' consultations each week, study finds

A study of eight community pharmacies across different settings in Scotland found that pharmacists provided just under half of the consultations.

Consultation with patient

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Patient questionnaires recorded from pharmacies that took part in the study found that 82% of respondents were “confident that a community pharmacist will provide advice as safely as a GP”

Community pharmacies in Scotland provide around 84,000 advice-only consultations every week, a study carried out by Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), Robert Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde has found.

The study, which looked at eight community pharmacies from different settings across Scotland, found that advice-only consultations were most often provided by a pharmacist (46%), followed by counter assistants (41%).

The findings were published on 29 July 2020 — the day that NHS Pharmacy First Scotland went live across the Scottish community pharmacy network. Described as a “world first for pharmacy”, pharmacists will be reimbursed for advice and referrals, as well as for dispensing medicine under the service.

Patient questionnaires recorded across the pharmacies that took part in the study found that of 446 respondents, 74.5% of patients believed that community pharmacists should be able to read and update relevant parts of the electronic health record.

And 82% of respondents said they were “confident that a community pharmacist will provide advice as safely as a GP”.

Harry McQuillan, chief executive of CPS, said the report demonstrated the value of the community pharmacy team and “allows us to highlight this value with key decision makers”.

Speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 9 July 2020, McQuillan said that Pharmacy First’s ability to record the volume of advice-only consultations will demonstrate “the amount of activity that the pharmacy network takes on, on behalf of the NHS.

“The network would say that they’ve always done it: for the first time, we’ll really start to quantify that”.

Speaking at a press briefing on 28 July 2020, the day before Pharmacy First’s launch, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said that Pharmacy First is “yet another demonstration, I think, of the importance and value of the work done by pharmacists across the country. Community pharmacies have been open throughout the [COVID-19] pandemic so far, and I know that their staff have worked immensely hard during this whole period.

“The new service being launched today shows their ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of people in their community and I am grateful to all of them for their efforts”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208225

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