The lord mayor of Bristol Paula O'Rourke visited the city's Bedminster Pharmacy last week, which shared videos of her receiving her flu jab and talking about how the value of community pharmacy.

She described community pharmacies as ‘hugely beneficial’, saying that they can ‘help people to stay well, to stop putting pressures on the NHS, to live a fuller and happy life’, adding that ‘people should avail of that opportunity in every way they can’.

The visit took place as part of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA)’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week, which aims to raise awareness of the NHS services provided by community pharmacies after an NPA survey revealed that 44% of people did not know about the New Medicine Service and 52% did not know that many pharmacies in England offer blood pressure monitoring services.

Ms O’Rourke said that she had ‘been on a bit of a learning curve recently’ about the services that community pharmacies offered.

‘I didn’t really realise how beneficial the pharmacy can be to an ordinary citizen. I recently had an infection, and I didn’t know that I could just go to the pharmacist and get all the treatments from there,’ she said in a video posted by Bedminster pharmacist Ade Williams on Twitter.

‘I had a very old-fashioned idea [that I needed] to see a doctor and I think that people really need to understand that the pharmacist is there to give really valuable, good advice,’ she added.

She added that in a fractured society, where health and wellbeing advice was not always passed on from parent to child, ‘it's really solid to have a pharmacist that you can go and ask for something from’.

She also said that pharmacists could play a key role in tackling health misinformation. ‘In a world with Dr Google, which can be really dangerous, it is very, very valuable to have a trained professional that you can go in and ask a question to directly,’ she said.

Mark Lyonette, the chief executive of the NPA, recently called for the new Health Secretary Steve Barclay to ‘buy into [pharmacy’s] can-do agenda for urgent care, long-term conditions, medicines optimisation and prevention,’ asking him to consider a ‘Pharmacy First’ approach as ‘a basis for a serious conversation about investment’ into pharmacy healthcare provision.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, pharmacists are funded by the NHS to provide clinical consultations and give advice to patients on a walk-in basis, an approach known as ‘Pharmacy First’.

In England, the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) is a mechanism to pay community pharmacists to deliver consultations following a referral from a GP or NHS 111. However, use of the CPCS service is not expanding as rapidly as many would like, and questions remain over its efficiency and whether it is reducing workload for all GPs.

Ade Williams, the community pharmacist and independent prescriber who gave Ms O’Rourke her flu jab, said that it was important for pharmacists to be able to close a patient’s clinical journey.

‘We have a locally commissioned PGD. When patients come in, we are able to provide them prescription only medicines where appropriate and safe for them. So for that patient, they see committee pharmacy as part of the solution, not part of the journey. I think it's important that [the service] that is embedded, it also reinforces why a nationally commissioned minor ailment service like that which exists in some of the other home nations makes sense.’

He said that being able to offer patients treatment saved them time and added value. ‘And you can't have a better opportunity to know: Is this really valuable? Does this really work? Than to listen to somebody like her say, well, actually, I think is great,’ he said.

‘Those are the sort of thumbs up that you really want to get.’