The first Community Pharmacy Improving the Public’s Health in England event was packed with brilliant speakers and interesting opinions about the future of community pharmacy.

We have rounded up the highlights from just some of the speeches at the Public Health England conference.

  • Councillor Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture for Hackney Council and the chair of the Pharmacy and Public Health forum, told the packed room to seize the moment.

McShane said: Local government and the NHS are facing huge challenges and there are also huge opportunities for pharmacy.

But if community pharmacy doesn’t stake its claim by showing what contribution it can make there’s a danger that a new system settles and community pharmacy has missed its opportunity to play as big a role as possible.

The risk is being left behind when the dust settles and the new system becomes the new normal.

The forums job is to support pharmacy nationally and locally to ensure it does fulfil its potential, it does stake its claim.

I think the public needs to understand what’s on offer from community pharmacy, the support, advice and services. That means we need a clear and consistent offering that is easy for people to understand.

In terms of commissioners, those who are commissioning little or nothing from community pharmacy need to take a fresh look at what pharmacy can offer.

All commissioners need to be much more imaginative about the contribution community pharmacy can make to public health, in primary care and in social care.

You need to stop talking about the potential community pharmacy has and demonstrate it much more proactively.

Reflect honestly on what those challenges are and establish a dialogue.

How many community pharmacists sit on health and wellbeing boards?

If you are a community pharmacist who is interested in this don’t expect the health and wellbeing board to send an invitation to you, you will need to demonstrate an interest.

  • Following McShane Nigel Hughes, public health specialist at Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire, took to the stage.

Healthy living pharmacy is the enabler and the process we use to handle all our work, he told the conference.

It’s about the quality of interventions people receive.

We are the local pharmaceutical committee for the whole of West Yorkshire and we cover a diverse area of geography and deprivation.

Pharmacies have got a role to play in all those areas through core and specialist services.

It’s our job to build on consistency and pharmacy has to do a lot of it for themselves.

Pharmacists are respected in their communities; the whole team is crucial.

I want to work with the most vulnerable in society and often they will not walk into a gym, they will not walk into a GP practice but they will walk into their community pharmacy.

There are partnerships we need to engage in to support communities and hard to reach groups.

Pharmacies need to be part of the wider dementia community; we need to use their skills to help the person living with dementia and their carers.

Carers are essential and pharmacy often sees them more than anyone else. We have engaged with various organisations to identify and support carers.

We have started to encourage our pharmacies to join the dementia alliance.

We joined a campaign led by Public Health England for the Wakefield Blood Pressure Drop-In.

We put posters in bus shelters, locals cafes and pharmacies over a 6 week period.

We had fantastic support from pharmacies and fantastic news coverage.

It was a great way of starting conversations about healthy weight, tobacco use and alcohol.

  • Mark Stone, local pharmaceutical committee project pharmacist from Devon, advised attendees on healthy living pharmacies (HLPs).

I want to share with you some of the lessons we have learned through the healthy living programme pilot.

We decided that we need a dedicated HLP lead, you have to have someone dedicated to it. We have someone about a day a week.

You have got to have good relationships with partner organisations there is still a good buzz around HLPs and you can utilise that to secure funding.

We needed to make sure we give good advice so we needed to make sure in our HLPs staff have the skill set to give good advice.

We have got nine pharmacies with HLP status and a few in north Devon, they are quite low numbers so we are reviewing the criteria and asking if it is too tough.

One of the things we have done is to team up with the local stroke association to take blood pressure readings.

You can’t judge patients by appearance, one apparently healthy patient was drinking too heavily so we have set out a plan for him to help him limit it.

My key lessons learned are: you have to have that HLP co-ordinator role to drive forward the activities, that is an absolute must.

Work closely with all partners, sometimes funding comes from the most bizarre places.

We have to be careful about the way we design pharmacy going forward, particularly in terms of the hub-and-spoke dispensing model. It is not all about pharmacists, it is about the staff.

If we can do this, raise the awareness of the services by driving the key brand.