Community pharmacists need to proactively “open the door” to their local Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) if they want to engage in strategic healthcare discussions.

HWBs were established under the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 as forums through which population health could be improved and inequalities reduced.

The boards were developed to give local communities a greater say in addressing the medical needs of their population.

But Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture for Hackney Council and chair of the Pharmacy and Public Health forum, has said firemen outnumber the amount of pharmacists who sit on the boards.

His call on 6 November 2015 for community pharmacists to approach HWBs for themselves rather than wait for an invite has now been welcomed by Pharmacy Voice.

Rob Darracott, chief executive of Pharmacy Voice, said: “HWB meetings are often open forums, and we would encourage individuals from the local pharmacy community to attend and input to the discussion.

“In doing so, we will ensure that HWBs understand and recognises the value that community pharmacy can offer.”

Pharmacy teams are actively involved in the health and wellbeing of local communities by offering advice and services to help people stop smoking, lose weight and manage alcohol consumption.

Darracott said: “With this in mind, Pharmacy Voice supports the suggestion of community pharmacy involvement on HWBs.

“We should not, however, sit back and wait for instructions from the top before becoming involved.”

His sentiments echo those made by Cllr McShane in a speech at the Community Pharmacy Improving the Public's Health in England conference hosted by Public Health England.

Cllr McShane said community pharmacists need to stake their claim in a changing healthcare landscape but added he was “not convinced” pharmacists engage in strategic discussions at a local level.

“How many community pharmacists sit on HWBs across the country?” he asked.

“If you are a community pharmacist who is interested in it, don't expect your HWB to send an invitation to you.

“You have got to open the door and demonstrate you can make a really positive contribution not just to services but to the discussion strategically about changes in health and social care in that area.”