FOR PATIENTS AND HEALTH CONSUMERS
In today’s connected world of instant and efficient service delivery, community pharmacy in the UK is at risk of being left behind as the delivery of NHS services becomes increasingly more digitised. As the only health care professionals who come into contact with healthy individuals as well as those living with longer term conditions, we must use our clinical and personal skills to deliver our USP! Prevention is key. It is a pivotal part of our profession. We must step up and deliver. We must keep an eye on what the NHS Long term Plan has in store for community pharmacy. All good and all dandy.
COVID19: Back in March last year, when the country was slowly waking up to the looming outbreak and potential lockdown due to CoronaVirus, the health service began the long and arduous process of putting stringent plans in place. The news and trajectory of how the disease had hit other countries put us in a slightly stronger position to predict and model how the outbreak may hit the U.K. So, the NHS prepared by building temporary hospitals, sourced ventilators, ordered PPE and deployed staff from other departments. Final year medics were pulled to the frontline. We clapped on Thursdays, we sang online and we prepared for a summer of uncertainty. The only healthcare professionals who remained open and stoic? Community pharmacists. This is testament to the resilience and dedication that have come to define how we just bounce back from adversity, funding cuts, giant competitors and now a novel virus! As the proverbial hit the fan, the pharmacy sector remained open for business as usual, with open doors, open hearts and open arms albeit from 2m away. My colleagues showed up to work, dressed in what could be loosely described as PPE, and delivered medicines, advice and support. One theme was also emerging very rapidly. The health inequalities that faced some communities whether they were based on socioeconomics, geographical location or race. As one close friend proclaimed “we are all in this storm together, it is just that some people are sailing in bigger and better boats’’ Looking ahead, we need to examine the way we deliver our value. We must outline our duties and responsibilities succinctly to the commissioners, design and curate our own solutions and put plans in place for when the NHS, PCNs and CCGs come calling for our specialist skills. We must lead our own sector and be our own cheerleaders. It did not go unnoticed when pharmacy was incessantly being missed when mentioning the response to the pandemic and who was left standing strong. We must consider ways to protect ourselves, our staff, and the local population. It is imperative that we consider adopting new ways of working, become more tech-enabled and offer frictionless access to our expertise. The one clear and as yet totally untested route is to offer e-consultations on a wider scale. A remote consultation via video link, live straight to and from our customers and patients’ smart devices. A means of recording all interventions and outcomes following OTC consultations. These are the interactions that go missed during the course of the day in every community pharmacy up and down the land. A recent survey published by the PSNC revealed that community pharmacies conducted 1 million consultations a week, but more evidence is needed. The report called for the sector to record outcomes and interventions. Time to support those who are self-isolating, shielding and/or simply unable to attend the pharmacy in person. Time to shine, show our true value and be ready with technology and services- being proactive rather than reactive.
THE FIRST WEALTH IS HEALTH- Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Hala Abusin- Community pharmacist/Content curator
11th June 2018- 4 mins read
Pharmacists are key members of your healthcare team and their accessibility and knowledge place them in the top three healthcare providers within the NHS.
Many patients and health consumers use their local pharmacy to get their prescriptions dispensed and to purchase over the counter medicines to treat minor illnesses such as coughs, ed symptoms, colds and allergies. But did you know that your local pharmacist is well-trained to provide much more than that?
1- Ask your pharmacist to review your current medication and advise on new medicines introduced after you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition or had a change of treatment. It is not always possible to remember all the questions you would like to ask your GP or hospital doctor about your medicines and this is where your community pharmacist comes in.
You can receive comprehensive advice on how and when to take your medicines, what they are for, possible side-effects and how they affect other treatments taken over the counter.
2- Your community pharmacy has a wealth of information about other healthcare professionals operating locally and you can easily obtain contact names and numbers of GP surgeries, nurses, hospitals and out-of-hours services. In certain cases, pharmacists can provide emergency supplies of a patient’s medicine providing certain criteria are met. There may be a charge requested to complete this supply.
3- Another way your qualified pharmacy staff can help is by providing tips and tools to remember how and when to take your medicines. Whether it is morning doses, lunchtime or evening doses, you can expect to receive tips on setting up reminders and prompts to alert you to dose times.
4- It is often challenging to order your prescriptions in time to be received at your chosen pharmacy before you run out and this can be frustrating. Remember most GP surgeries ask that you give at least two working days’ notice to issue a prescription to be forwarded to your pharmacy and in some cases this can be done via the pharmacy (check this is the case where you are registered)
5- If you take a number of medicines for your condition(s) then you can ask your pharmacist to contact your GP to match up the quantities of your medicines and report your concerns or comments back to the GP (with your consent)
6- Most community pharmacies operate an NHS service called the Minor Ailments Scheme. This services is open to all eligible NHS registered patients who are exempt from paying prescription charges and can obtain a wide selection of treatments for conditions ranging from coughs and colds, fever, hayfever, dry skin, head lice, eye infections, teething and fungal infections to name but a few. Ask your surgery or your pharmacy staff for details.
7- Most high street community pharmacies have a special consultation room where you can discuss any concerns whether private or embarrassing with your trusted pharmacist. These matters remain highly confidential and will be treated respectfully and in line with your right to privacy and protected under general data protection regulations (GDPR)
8- Healthy living advice and self-care are undoubtedly the best tools to prevent and manage long term conditions and prevent further complications. In community pharmacy, staff are highly trained and well equipped to provide you with detailed explanations on how to stay well using information leaflets, in-house displays of health advice and local/national campaigns to prevent disease complications.
9- Another highly specialised service operating in certain approved pharmacies can prove invaluable to a certain group of patients and health consumers. Following a short consultation with an accredited pharmacist some patients may be eligible to receive medicines such as the emergency contraceptive pill, oral contraception, anti-malaria treatment, hair loss, weight loss, period delay and weight loss to name but a few. These services are privately run by pharmacies so there is a charge to be paid but useful in cases where a GP appointment is not always possible to book or if the patient is not registered with an NHS GP. However other services such as flu vaccination and the stop smoking initiative may be offered free of charge to eligible patients. Ask for details at your local community pharmacy.
In today’s much connected and digitised world, community pharmacy is moving with the times to provide access to a wealth of information and health tips to keep well and to prove the profession’s worthiness of being a pivotal part of the NHS.