The Government should consider adopting the French pharmacy model's greater use of non-conventional medicines in UK pharmacy, a parliamentary healthcare advocacy group has advised.

Speaking at a parliamentary event yesterday (13 December), chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Integrated Healthcare David Tredinnick urged the Government to look at countries such as France, where he said community pharmacists’ skills are better utilised.

Mr Tredinnick’s comments came as the APPG for Integrated Healthcare launched a new report setting out a series of recommendations to ‘embrace complementary, traditional and natural medicines to ‘ease the mounting burden on service provision’ in the NHS.


French model an inspiration


The APPG for Integrated Healthcare said that alternative medicines, such as plant-based products, are more recognised in France, with most pharmacy premises dispensing homeopathic products that are partially reimbursed by the state’s social security.

The group urged health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to ‘keep an open mind’ on this.

Mr Tredinnick said: ‘Mr Hancock wants to look at the French model. This is brilliant because French pharmacists are all trained in naturopathy, homeopathy and relevant medicines.

‘The first thing a French pharmacist would say if you go to [the pharmacy] and say “I’ve got flu” is “why don’t you try this compound, herbal therapy?”. It’s a all mindset.’

Last month, the Government released a document stating that prevention through primary and community care services will be at the heart of an upcoming NHS 10-year plan.

Commenting on the role of pharmacy as part of the Government strategy, Mr Hancock said that he looked at the French pharmacy model ‘for inspiration’.

He continued: ‘Community pharmacies have a hugely important role to play in keeping people out of hospital and in supporting GP surgeries by doing more.


Tackling polypharmacy


The APPG for Integrated Healthcare argued that the growing number of people with a complex, long-term conditions has resulted in polypharmacy, which works only to ‘increase drugs dependency and cost to taxpayer rather than tackling the underlying root causes of illness’, it said.

Mr Tredinnick added: ‘One of the fundamental difficulties the health service has at the moment is the evidence gap where there isn’t an understanding of how to deal with self conditions.

‘Once you’ve fired antibiotics and steroids at it, where are you going next? It’s into this gap that complementary healthcare falls.’

The group recommended the Government to ‘make greater use of pharmacists instead of patients opting to go to their GP or A&E as a first port of call’.