We have just seen the end of another successful Ask Your Pharmacist Week on 9–15 November 2015 and would like to share some of the activities that were happening around the UK with readers.
Pharmacists and pharmacy representatives across the country took advantage of this platform for raising public awareness. There were exhibitions in libraries, hospitals and town halls, and there were mayoral visits, radio appearances, community talks, newspaper columns and window displays. It was great to see so many NHS bodies being active on social media, signposting people to community pharmacy as the first port of call for common ailments.
Ask Your Pharmacist (AYP) Week also serves as a prompt for conversations with key stakeholders at a local level about community pharmacy services, and the fruits of such conversations can ripen long after the event. Many pharmacies welcomed political representatives into their pharmacies, aiming to give them a better understanding of the benefits of the pharmacy network. This is important in light of tight public finances and the associated temptation within government to let cost obscure value. Elsewhere, local relationships were forged or reinforced with community groups and with colleagues from other healthcare professional groups.
This year’s theme, ‘Medicines and more’, gave plenty of scope to address local priorities. In many localities, given the time of year, the focus was on encouraging people to make appropriate self care choices for the prevention and treatment of winter ailments. In other places, pharmacists took the opportunity to promote health checks, medicines use reviews, influenza vaccinations and many other pharmacy-based interventions.
It is important to remember that AYP Week is just that — a week. It is only one part of ongoing public awareness activities by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and others aiming to position community pharmacies as the first port of call for medicines and medicines advice and as a key provider at the heart of the NHS. Pharmacy Voice’s ‘Dispensing health’ campaign is another useful initiative, as are NHS campaigns signposting to pharmacy. Readers in England will be aware that Public Health England has recently launched ‘Stay well this winter’, which points people to pharmacy for self care. To achieve a sustained change in consumer behaviour, promotion needs to continue year-round and showcase the full scope of pharmacy based services. To this end, NPA members can now access awareness resources to cover a wide range of topics, such as self care, diabetes, asthma, sexual health, flu, men’s health, falls and more.
Head of Communications
National Pharmacy Association