The Government must commission more services in community pharmacies across England, pharmacy bodies have urged.
The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM) yesterday (14 October) proposed that community pharmacies should be commissioned to provide prevention services more consistently across the country.
The proposals were made in the bodies’ response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) ‘advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ consultation, which closed yesterday.
CCA chief Malcolm Harrison said ‘a more consistent approach’ to commissioning is needed so that the sector can ‘play a greater role’ in prevention strategies.
The community pharmacy network is ‘well-placed to provide tailored lifestyle advice’ due to its frequent contact with patients, he added.
NHS health checks should be commissioned in all English community pharmacies, allowing GPs to address more ‘complex’ patient conditions, the CCA and AIM said in their consultation response.
The document said: ‘We believe there are significant benefits, to both the NHS and patients, in commissioning NHS health checks from all community pharmacies.
‘This could build capacity for GPs to focus on patients with more complex needs and will also give patients more choice and potentially be more convenient, given the accessibility of community pharmacies and the fact that many are open longer hours and at weekends.’
Community pharmacies could offer follow-up services, such as blood pressure monitoring and ‘brief interventions’ about weight management or smoking cessation, it added.
The CCA and AIM called for an extension of the programme to target people in ‘at-risk groups’ under 40, such as smokers or those who are overweight.
A digital version of the health check could improve access and engagement, they added.
Last year, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) called for community pharmacy health checks to be included in the NHS long-term plan.
The document added that additional services should be nationally commissioned for delivery in community pharmacies including:
- Further vaccination services, such as hepatitis or human papillomavirus (HPV)
- A smoking cessation service
- Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) provision
- Routine monitoring for patients taking oral contraception when they collect repeat prescriptions