Community pharmacy as the shop window of public health

The NHS Alliance has been very bold in their Manifesto:

Patients should each have the opportunity to develop a health and wellbeing plan with a named healthcare professional to help them understand their own risk profile and how they can best care for themselves

This is a bold statement, but I might have gone further than this to say every ‘person’. We know that there are many patients in the system who would benefit, but we also know that there are many people out there yet to be diagnosed who would benefit from an earlier intervention. If we can generally improve health and wellbeing then we can genially improve the health of the nation and reach the challenge set by the Secretary of State to tackle killer diseases.

Pharmacists across the country have been waiting for this challenge and opportunity and it is their time to engage and change the health of the nation. But this is not a new thing for pharmacists, an unheard of concept a revelation. It is just a recognition that some good early work needs to spread. The Innovation Health and Wealth report demonstrated how slow the NHS was to spread good practice and this is one area where again fail to take up the challenge.

The Healthy Living Pharmacy concept was developed in Portsmouth three years ago and rolled out through pathfinder sites a year later. The target was to have 100 by the end of March 2012. At the time, the then Secretary of State said:

Pharmacy and their teams play a vital role in promoting the public’s health in their local communities. Our plans to modernise the NHS will mean better integration of pharmacy teams working alongside other health professionals, helping to improve public health and reduce health inequalities. Implementation of Healthy Living Pharmacies will also be one of the early priorities for the newly established pharmacy and public health forum to take forward

The Healthy Living Pharmacies have a different attitude and direction. A new leadership direction and team members qualified to health trainer status. They are qualified and able to deliver health and wellbeing reports to all people. And don’t forget that a staggering 1.8million people walk into a pharmacy every day.

But this is not enough. There is more to do to join this all together and make real changes. Less than one in 5 community pharmacies are commissioned to provide stop smoking services and not all of these have easy access to all NICE recommended treatments. I could continue and talk about sexual health services, obesity management services, vaccination, men’s health, alcohol interventions, substance misuse and social care campaign signposting. It is all just not enough.

All people should be able to walk into the Healthy Living Pharmacy in their home town and obtain a health and wellbeing plan from a health trainer qualified pharmacist as their ‘named health professional’. While they are there, the pharmacist should either be able to offer services and/or treatment, refer to alternative service providers, implement locally agreed self-care programs or signpost.

People give us fleeting opportunities to really improve their health and wellbeing. A health and wellbeing report needs wrap around services to kick in immediately, while the person and opportunity is there.

Healthy Living Pharmacies are part of the solution to the first key proposal in the NHS Alliance manifesto. It can be delivers through key proposal 23 – developing a new pharmacy contract that moves away from dispensing and retained profits to the delivery of clinically based services and full integration within the new primary care.


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