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Women’s health should be part of pharmacy training, RPS says

Trainee pharmacist talking to a woman

By Isabel Shaw

21 Jul 2021

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling for undergraduate pharmacy courses to include teaching on women’s health. 

The proposal is one of nine key recommendations the RPS outlined in a position statement, published yesterday (20 July), aimed at addressing inequalities in women’s health care. 

Claire Anderson, RPS president said: ‘We believe women’s health should be covered in undergraduate training for pharmacists, and more research data is needed on how medicines work specifically in women.’ 

The document stated that this education should be ‘built on throughout pharmacists’ ongoing professional development, including foundation and advanced pharmacist educational frameworks, and prescribing training’.  

‘Women access nearly all clinical specialties, and therefore women’s health considerations should be built into all specialty training.’  

The RPS has also called for improved guidance for healthcare professionals on safe and effective medicines for breastfeeding and pregnant women.  

According to the RPS, the current guidance is ‘spread across multiple reference sources which may contradict each other’.  

‘Although interpretation of resources requires professional judgement especially in complex situations where there is not a single ‘right’ answer, improved consistency across information resources will ensure healthcare professionals are better equipped to answer queries based on the available data and evidence, so will be able to provide consistent reliable information to enable women to make informed decisions about their healthcare,’ the document explained.  

It also said that community pharmacy teams are ‘particularly well placed’ to provide care and support to people in period poverty. ‘Consideration should be given to how pharmacies could support the provision of sanitary products to those who need them,’ the statement said.  

Mental health support through pharmacies 

The RPS is also pushing for better mental health support to be made accessible to women, while acknowledging that pharmacy teams are in a good position to recognise mental health problems and provide advice and medication. 

‘Providing advice about mental health, and prescribing, supplying and monitoring medicines for mental health conditions including those directly linked to women’s health such as menstrual syndromes and menopause, as well as wider mental health conditions including eating disorders and alcohol use,’ the document said.  

Earlier this month, the UK medicine regulator approved two progestogen-only pills for sale without a prescription from pharmacies. 

Before this, the two desogestrel (DSG) progestogen-only pills, Lovima and Hana tablets, were only available on prescription following a medical consultation.  

The landmark ruling was welcomed by health bodies and pharmacists alike, as a well-timed ‘step in the right direction’ as health services are busier than ever dealing with a backlog of patients.   

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