Anderson, Claire and Blenkinsopp, Alison and Armstrong, Miriam
The contribution of community pharmacy to improving the public's health. Report 1, Evidence from the peer-reviewed literature 1990–2001.
Technical Report: ISBN 0-9538505-1-X.
PharmacyHealthLink and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
The modernisation of the NHS has highlighted the
Government's intent to improve the public’s access to
health services, information on preventing ill health and
support for self-care. Community pharmacies are in a
strong position to contribute to this agenda with around
12 000 dedicated premises in the UK creating an informal
network of ‘drop in’ access points for health care services,
medicines and advice on health and well-being.
It has been estimated that over six million people visit
pharmacies every day. Many pharmacy staff work in
premises that are sited within local communities and
shopping precincts where they provide easy access to the
public without the need for an appointment. The
informal nature of contact with a pharmacy creates an
experience for users which is more similar to a ‘consumer’
than as a ‘patient’. Visitors to pharmacies come from all
sectors of the population and research has shown that
local pharmacy services are particularly valued by those
without easy access to a car or public transport. In
recognition of this potential the recent Health
Committee Inquiry into Public Health5 recommended that
‘the Government takes steps for community pharmacists
to play a more active role in public health’.
As a result of these characteristics there is an opportunity
for pharmacy staff to give advice and support on health
or medicines to a significant proportion of the
population on a regular or ad hoc basis. Much of this
advice is given with prescriptions and the treatment of
minor illnesses, however, some pharmacies also provide
other services to improve health, such as help with
smoking cessation, dietary advice, and testing of blood
pressure and cholesterol. The provision of these latter
services, however, is not universal and there has been no
systematic evaluation of the evidence on their
contribution to public health. To help assess the value of
these services delivered through pharmacy, the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)and the
charity PharmacyHealthLink commissioned a review of
the UK and international evidence-base health
improvement in order to determine which activities are
most likely to be effective in a pharmacy setting and how
they might best be provided.
The review demonstrates that certain services are both
sufficiently well-researched and well-received by
pharmacy users at an international level, for example in
smoking cessation, lipid management in the prevention
of coronary heart disease, immunisation and emergency
contraception, that recommendations for their
widespread implementation in the UK can be made.
Other services also show promise but are less wellresearched
and require more evaluation before an
assessment of their effectiveness and suitability in a
pharmacy setting can be determined.
This review can help to shape the contribution of
community pharmacists to a modernised health service. It
provides useful evidence to those involved in the
planning and provision of health services to prevent
illness and maintain health. Funding bodies and
commissioners may wish to use its findings to develop
pharmacy services to contribute further to their health
improvement plans and local targets.
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