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PJ Online | News: Only half think pharmacists are in NHS

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 269 No 7226 p769
30 November 2002

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Scottish Consumer Council (

Only half think pharmacists are in NHS

Consultation areas are being introduced in some Scottish pharmacies like this model pharmacy in Glasgow. Scots are divided over whether they can talk to a pharmacist in private

Only half the respondents to a Scottish Consumer Council survey think that their pharmacist is part of the National Health Service in Scotland.

The survey of 1,044 adults found that older women and those in lower socio-economic groups, both frequent users of community pharmacies, were more likely to identify their pharmacist as being part of the NHS than those aged 16?34 years, who are among the least frequent users. One action point in the Scottish pharmaceutical care strategy is to encourage community pharmacies to carry the NHS Scotland logo (PJ, 9 February, p168).

Overall, the survey found a high use of community pharmacy services with 36 per cent reporting that they had visited a pharmacy at least once a month in the past 12 months and a further 47 per cent saying they visited one every three months or more. Women were most likely to be frequent visitors with 46 per cent going once a month or more compared with 25 per cent of men. Around two-thirds of respondents regularly use the same pharmacy. Again, older women and those in lower socio-economic classes were most likely to use the same pharmacy all the time. Infrequent users were most likely to use different pharmacies. Most respondents found the location of their pharmacy convenient.

When it came to approaching a pharmacist for medical advice, a majority said that they would feel comfortable or very comfortable in doing so and 43 per cent said that they had done so in the past year. However, there was a lack of agreement about whether it is possible to talk to a pharmacist in private, with 40 per cent agreeing and 33 per cent disagreeing. Younger pharmacy users were more likely than older users to be concerned about confidentiality.

Looking at other services that could be provided through pharmacies, support was given for authorising repeat prescriptions (61 per cent), carrying out health checks such as blood pressure measurements (41), running smoking cessation clinics (37) and reviewing medication (26). Asked which other health professionals could provide services through pharmacy premises, respondents suggested chiropodists, nurses, physiotherapists and health visitors. Little support was given for non-health-related services such as social work.

Graeme Millar, chairman of the Scottish Consumer Council and himself a pharmacist, says in a preface to the survey's results: "Our research provides a baseline, and in future years it will be interesting to see how successful pharmacists have been in widening access to their services, and developing their services to meet the needs of the communities they serve."

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