Community pharmacists should be able to formally refer people with warning signs of lung disease directly to GPs, according to a report from the Taskforce for Lung Health, of which the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is one of 29 member organisations.
‘A National Five Year Plan for Lung Health’, which was launched by the task force on 5 December 2018, says that visits to community pharmacy offer “a huge opportunity to pick up on warning signs for lung disease”. The report recommends that community pharmacists be “recognised as valuable healthcare professionals who can identify and support people at risk of developing lung disease or those who are already being treated”.
The RPS is represented on the task force by Heidi Wright, English practice and policy lead at the RPS, and Anna Murphy, consultant respiratory pharmacist and RPS respiratory clinical spokesperson, ensuring that pharmacy was included in the plan’s recommendations.
“A formal referral system to enable [community pharmacists] to refer people directly to general practice would be a game-changer for improving patient health and I warmly welcome this recommendation in the report”, Murphy said.
The report also recommends the expansion of medicines use reviews and the new medicines service, with the removal of caps of the number of such services a pharmacy can carry out.
“A shocking 90% of asthma-related deaths are believed to be preventable with the right treatment and monitoring, and reviews are an important part of this”, Murphy added.
Other recommendations include the provision of more training places for pharmacists in GP surgeries, and the inclusion of consultant pharmacist posts in strategic workforce plans.