This month in Pharmaceutical Field I highlight the important role community pharmacy plays in supporting the public’s health.
Will the recent NICE guidance, which focuses on how community pharmacies can help maintain and improve people’s physical and mental health, also focus the minds of NHS England and Public Health England? Mike Holden from Pharmacy Complete hopes so. Read more in the Pharmacy Magazine article he recently wrote.
It is excellent news that we now have 9436 (88%) pharmacies in England declared as Healthy Living Pharmacies, this represents an additional 5% on the November 2017 declaration. For these pharmacies the key will be ensuring that all the HLP criteria continue to be met in order to maintain the status and thus be able to promote the quality mark.
Becoming an accredited HLP is just the beginning, its what HLPs then do differently, bigger and better that will define and differentiate them. This will then help them realise the benefits of the improved ethos, engagement, capability and activity that comes with doing the right things with the right people.
The next step is building on that capability and activity for a healthier future for their community and their pharmacy. Pharmacy Complete have a range of resources and courses to support this. Developing and demonstrating this capability and commitment should have its own benefits through increased productivity and delivery of both private and commissioned health promotion, prevention and protection services.
What we need to see now is the NHS and Public Health, at both national and local level, recognising the HLP asset to deliver against the Staying Healthy and other objectives within the recent NHS Plan consultation to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of the population. Good to see some early signs of engagement from PSNC and RPS with this consultation which requires new thinking focussed on NHS and public health needs both now and in the future.
Health promotion campaigns are a key element of a Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP). Beyond simply complying with the HLP criteria, health promotions that have been well run increase engagement with your customers and patients and promote your pharmacy to your community.
Some campaign topics materials may be sourced locally or nationally but this still requires some effort, e.g. the Stoptober campaign materials this year need to be ordered by pharmacies rather than being sent automatically; this also applies to flu.
Pharmacy Complete have launched a health campaign subscription service with six campaigns over 12 months aligned to national priorities but not duplicating what the NHS or Public Health may directly provide. This ensures that you meet the minimum criteria but leaves plenty of room for any national campaigns and local flexibility and innovation.
In the packs we provide posters and information materials to increase awareness of the health benefits of a key health issue. We include information to give the team knowledge and guidance on how they can help support people to reduce their health risks. Depending on the topic, we also provide something a bit different, e.g. cards or stickers, to help with customer engagement plus some tips on running effective health campaigns and other sources of information.
Many HLPs struggle to find reliable sources of quality materials and may waste a lot of time, effort and money in doing so or simply give up and risk being non-compliant with the criteria.
So why not sort it and sign up now.
What is it?
NHS Digital have released their latest report on services provided by community pharmacies in England between 2007/08 and 2017/18.
What does it say?
- The total number of community pharmacy contractors fell by 80 (0.7%) on 2016/17 to 11,619 with the proportion of independents (5 or less pharmacies) remaining at 38%
- The number of 100 hour contracts fell by 10 to 1,179
- The number of distance selling pharmacies rose by 29 to 350
- The total number of prescriptions dispensed in community pharmacies in 2017/18 was 1,013.3 million, a fall of 2.3 million on 2016/17 with the average number of items per pharmacy at 7,267 per month
- 97.3% of pharmacies provided the Medicines Use Review service (MURs) with the average per pharmacy being 299 which was no improvement on 2016/17
- 89% of pharmacies provided the New Medicine Service (NMS) with an average of 90 per pharmacy
- 77% of pharmacies provided the NHS Flu Vaccination service and delivered 1.34 million vaccinations (an average of 150 per participating pharmacy and a 40% increase on 2016/17) to improve the reach of this important protection intervention. This was worth £12.3 million in fees
- 3,930 pharmacies delivered one or more locally commissioned Enhanced Services, a 3% drop on 2016/17
What does it mean?
- Its tough out there!
- The number of pharmacies serving communities are declining, i.e. no longer viable and/or through consolidation
- The number of DSPs are increasing and the number of items they are delivering are increasing against the normal trend
- A potential 1.4 million MURs were not completed equivalent to £35 million left on the table, despite the funding cuts, to the detriment of patients and the contractors involved
- 318 (11%) pharmacies chose not to deliver the NMS
- 2613 (23%) pharmacies chose not to deliver the NHS Flu Vaccination service. If they all engaged and delivered the 2017 average of 150 vaccinations, this would be mean an additional 391,950 patients would be vaccinated which would be worth £3.6m in fees to those additional pharmacies
- We could move the flu median up by using the whole pharmacy team to effectively implement and promote the flu service
- Local services continue to be decommissioned for whatever reason, e.g. funding challenges, poor understanding of commissioners of the benefits of using community pharmacies, poor or inconsistent delivery by some pharmacies
Community pharmacy’s ‘cheese’ has moved and, in the rapidly changing health and consumer ecosystems in which we operate, we must constantly adapt to remain relevant and compelling to commissioners and consumers of our services. In addition to pursuing an effective contractual framework and new locally commissioned services, we must plan for a sustainable future, embrace the digital healthcare revolution, be more effective at supporting self care and explore opportunities for private services to reduce dependence on NHS revenue which is declining in value and profitability.