Pharmacy organisations are calling for a single national service specification for prevention services in community pharmacy, such as smoking cessation and the provision of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC).
The call comes in response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on its green paper on health prevention, which closed on 14 October 2019.
The paper, which was published on 22 July 2019, laid out ambitions such as a commitment for England to become smoke-free by 2030 and for the launch of a mental health prevention package.
It said that the new community pharmacy contractual framework would “redefine the integral role community pharmacies play in delivering healthcare over the next five years”.
The Company Chemists’ Association and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM) jointly responded to the consultation saying that a national smoking cessation service commissioned through community pharmacy would contribute to the aim to make England smoke-free by 2030, and that a single service specification for EHC would also help address variation in service specifications across different localities.
They also said there would be considerable benefits, to both patients and the NHS, if community pharmacies were commissioned to routinely monitor patients taking oral contraception as part of repeat dispensing, and if pharmacist independent prescribers were able to prescribe oral contraceptives in the community. Additional sexual health services, such as Chlamydia screening and treatment, could also be provided, they added.
“There is still more that the community pharmacy sector can do, and its ability to deliver prevention services will require the skills of the whole pharmacy team,” said Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of AIM.
“With the right funding, pharmacies can play a greater role in improving health outcomes through preventative interventions.”
This view for the provision of sexual health services was echoed by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which added that the ‘NHS health check’ should be extended to enable pharmacy teams to provide further testing and help people interpret results and take actions to improve health.
“Following the health check, community pharmacists could check blood pressure and offer advice on diet, smoking cessation and physical activity on an ongoing basis to help individuals to maximise positive behaviour change,” the PSNC wrote.
The organisation added that it would like to see the extension of the new medicine service so that patients who have been newly prescribed an antidepressant can benefit from the support of a community pharmacist and a wider range of vaccinations, including catch-up provision for cohorts of patients where vaccination levels are below targets.