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Strong evidence exists to support pharmacy provision of certain public health services

The Pharmacy and Public Health Forum says there is strong evidence that community pharmacy can effectively deliver specific public health services in a report published today (16 January 2014).

However, the forum warns that the evidence is not universally supportive and says it is important to be specific when considering which interventions work well in community pharmacies and which might not.

The report reviews the progress of a forum task group responsible for consolidating and developing the evidence base for pharmacy’s contribution to public health.

The task group commissioned Solutions for Public Health, an NHS public health consultancy, to conduct a literature review of the currently available evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of community pharmacy teams in improving public health.

Smoking cessation and management of long-term conditions like diabetes were among the interventions with the strongest supporting data. The Solutions for Public Health review found good quality literature that supported the effectiveness of certain pharmacy services, including smoking cessation, cardiovascular disease prevention, blood pressure management, management of diabetes, and possibly asthma and heart failure.

However, more good quality evidence is needed to support services such as infection control, substance misuse, weight management, minor ailment schemes and supply of emergency hormonal contraception, the review concluded.

Evidence should encourage commissioners to consider pharmacy

The PPHF report urges commissioners to think of pharmacy as an important part of an integrated approach to delivery of public health interventions. It states: “The evidence, as it stands, should encourage commissioners, including local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, to seriously consider pharmacy as an effective delivery mechanism for public health services”, but adds that a judgement should be made based on the needs of their area.

The document also examines the evaluation report on the health living pharmacy campaign, published in April 2013. It describes data from the HLP evaluation as “incomplete” but says the evaluation does add to the forum’s level of confidence that this sort of practice could be provided on a national scale. It notes that the public-reported experiences from the HLP project were positive and suggested potential to transfer workload from general practice.

Commissioners and pharmacies that adopted the HLP model were also positive about the service; 81 per cent of commissioners said the service was excellent and 91 per cent of pharmacy contractors said the HLP was a worthwhile investment, the report says. It adds that non-pharmacist staff were found to make an important contribution to the delivery of public health services.



Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132943

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