Pharmacy leaders have called for community pharmacy to be given a greater role in preventing ill health at today’s Westminster Health Forum.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and Helga Mangion, policy advisor at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), made the case for community pharmacy to help tackle the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

‘Pharmacists offer value for money,’ said Dr Hannbeck, suggesting that the sector could take on responsibility for the government’s prevention agenda.

She said that if community pharmacy could deliver services such as immunisation, blood pressure monitoring and blood glucose monitoring ‘through an NHS funded scheme’, ‘a lot of people would be able to use that service’.

She added that commissioning services through community pharmacies would offer accessibility and tackle health inequalities – so that services were not just ‘exclusive to areas where people can pay for it’.

Community pharmacy would also offer better value than the delivery of services through GPs, freeing up GPs ‘to do other things for the NHS’, she said.

Dr Hannbeck also said that if community pharmacists were given the opportunity to manage long-term conditions, such as diabetes, they could help people who were currently ending up in hospital due to not following their medication regime properly.

Meanwhile, Ms Mangion highlighted the success of community pharmacy in delivering NHS commissioned preventative services such as the smoking cessation service, which she said was ‘one of the most successful preventative services that we have in the United Kingdom’, as well as ‘fantastic’ sexual health services and screenings.

She said that investing in community pharmacy was ‘an investment in the health of the patients, particularly those who are less well-off and able to afford it’.

Both Dr Hannbeck and Ms Mangion highlighted the need to invest in the sector as a whole and the potential for a minor ailments service, with adequate funding, to address issues around health inequality.

Last week, the Health and Social Care Select Committee's inquiry into preventing ill-health discussed the role that community pharmacy could play in delivering vaccinations.