Tackling health inequalities, referring patients and signposting are major areas in which community pharmacy can improve quality of care for patients, pharmacy organisations have said in response to a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) consultation on its quality standard for the role of community pharmacies in promoting health and wellbeing.
Respondents to the consultation were asked to identify up to five main areas for quality improvement which they considered as having the greatest potential to improve the quality of care for patients.
In a joint response, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM) identified addressing health inequalities; referrals and signposting; behavioural support; supporting efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR); and supporting people with mental health needs as the five areas in which community pharmacy could improve care.
Referring to the ‘NHS long-term plan’, in which tackling health inequalities is a listed as an aim, the organisations said that through integration into primary care networks, community pharmacies could work with other healthcare professionals to deliver population-based care.
They added that the new NHS community pharmacist consultation service, enabling referrals from NHS 111 into community pharmacy, would help integrate community pharmacies into local NHS systems.
In terms of combatting AMR, the CCA and AIM said that community pharmacists could support patients to take their antibiotics properly and educate the public about the problem. Pharmacists could also engage with prescribers to ensure that antibiotic prescribing is appropriate, they said.
Finally, in supporting people with mental health needs, the organisations referred to the role of pharmacies in supporting adherence, which, they said, was particularly poor among patients with mental health needs.
The National Pharmacy Association, which also responded to the consultation, also highlighted health inequalities and referrals and signposting as an area for improvement, but said that social care was another area where community pharmacies could add value.
“Community pharmacists and their teams can identify those patients who require social care. Currently, there is an absence of formalised and non-formalised pathways into the system,” the NPA said in its response.
The quality standard is due to be published in June 2020.