Pharmacists ready and willing to take on a bigger role in health care

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Community pharmacists are keen to expand the number of services they provide to patients, providing they have the resources to do so, according to a survey carried out by The King's Fund.

Developing Community Pharmacy, by Richard Lewis and Clare Jenkins, is the result of a survey of pharmacists in North East London. It shows that many pharmacies are already providing more services than required under their national contract. More than two-thirds are confident they can extend their services further, in line with government policies.

But the survey also found that many pharmacies lack the facilities to expand. One third do not have any space for a private consulting room, for example. Half of the pharmacists surveyed, meanwhile, were working more than 48 hours a week.

Developing Community Pharmacy reveals that smaller pharmacies offer a wider range of services than multiples. They were more likely to offer nicotine replacement therapy, advice to care homes, health screening and prescription collection and delivery. Yet small pharmacies are currently being replaced in many places by larger chains. The effects of this trend on patients should be watched carefully to ensure a good breadth of services is maintained in future.

Richard Lewis, visiting fellow at The King's Fund, said:

'Community pharmacists are keen to play a bigger role in the NHS. Yet they are frequently kept on the margins of their local primary care trusts (PCTs).

'Pharmacists can do much to deliver the government's ambitious plans for the NHS. But many cannot do so without additional training, facilities and expert support. If PCTs are to get the best out of pharmacy services, they should involve them in local decision-making and provide the investment necessary to expend their capacity.'

Read the report: Developing Community Pharmacy

Notes to editors

Developing Community Pharmacy, by Richard Lewis and Clare Jenkins, is available from the King´s Fund bookshop on 020 7307 2591.

For review copies or interviews with the authors, please contact Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927.