Public Health England (PHE) published a report last week, Pharmacy: A Way Forward for Public Health, identifying the potential role community pharmacies could have in improving public’s health and reducing diseases, premature deaths and health inequalities.

The publication suggests how commissioners and providers can use 14 highlighted opportunities through community pharmacies to improve public health.

It echoes the Five Year Forward View, published in 2014, which recognises the important role pharmacies play in preventing diseases and promoting healthy living styles.

What areas did PHE identify as opportunities for community pharmacy?

The public health opportunities are:

  • Encouraging NHS health checks
  • Reducing high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation
  • Tackling Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and providing reproductive health services
  • Promoting healthy diet and bringing down obesity rates
  • Promoting stopping smoking
  • Recommending regular physical activity
  • Raising awareness on dementia
  • Preventing musculoskeletal conditions
  • Lowering alcohol intake and drugs misuse
  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Supporting unemployed and employed workers with long-term health conditions

How were the opportunities chosen?

The authors of the report examined the commissioning landscape and the appearance of Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs) over the past years. They looked at public health interventions that are currently, and could be, carried out by pharmacy teams to improve the health of the population. They then identified the key priorities, which contribute the most to diseases and deaths across the country, for Health and Wellbeing Boards and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

Who can use the opportunities?

Public Health England hopes commissioners and providers, such as Local Authorities (LAs), Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS England, will engage with pharmacy teams on the specified opportunities to fully increase their crucial impact on communities’ health.

At a local level, the opportunities for action are used through Health and Wellbeing Strategies and STPs.

How will pharmacies deliver the opportunities?

Community pharmacies can deliver advice, provide appropriate checks and medicines to their patients and direct them towards suitable health institutions when needed.

They are highly encouraged to remain up-to-date on various conditions risks, signs and effects and raise awareness on diseases by taking suitable online training modules.

The full report can be accessed here.