The best thing about community pharmacy is that it is an independent contractor to the NHS. And we must never forget this. It allows us to operate a business that not only fulfils an NHS contract, but an unofficial contract to the community that we serve. Next time someone walks into you pharmacy – remind them that you are a there to provide solutions to their healthcare needs. No not just dispensing a prescription, but that too.
Connect2pharma understands the importance of this concept and the need to develop a new way of thinking within community pharmacy.
The NHS is always hung up on population numbers and statistics. They think mainly about large populations of people and what would represent value the masses. Over 200 community pharmacies now offer private Strep A sore throat Test and Treat services. It may not add up on a national level to make it worth commissioning, but on an individual level it becomes much more important. From a personal point of view, if I had a sore throat and a Centor score of 3 or 4, I would go to a pharmacy and ask for an assessment and a test. The rapid antigen test is highly specific and highly sensitive and would provide a definitive diagnosis. If the test was positive I would ask the pharmacist to supply an antibiotic on a PGD. Having started a course of antibiotics I will stop being infectious within 24 hours and can carry on with my normal life.
It is my responsibility to make sure that I do not spread strep A to my relatives and friends, and my responsibility that I do not take antibiotics when there is no clear indication.
However this is where the numbers do not add up. There are about 5,000 reported cases of scarlet fever in England each year and almost 700 cases of the much more dangerous invasive Strep A each year. It would probably cost the NHS too much to implement a national test and treat service and the payback in reducing a few scarlet fever and invasive strep A cases is both too small and not quantifiable and evidence based.
Fortunately I don’t need that sort of evidence – it just seems like common sense and personal responsibility. The test costs less than a tenner and the antibiotics about the same. So £20 – boom – I have done my duty and can enjoy mixing with my family, friends and work colleagues. I live in London and I know where to go and I won’t be bothering my GP for something my pharmacy can sort out for me.
Why doesn’t every pharmacy do it?
This year I met two women who had experience of strep B infections during delivery. One baby died within a week and the other is profoundly deaf. The families will never be the same. But again the numbers don’t add up – lots of expense to save just a few families from this sort of heartache every year. So once Connect2pharma has the service up and running in some like-minded community pharmacies, I will be their first customer and my niece will have a pack coming in the post.
It will soon be a New Year and every new year needs a resolution – look after yourself.