NHS funding provided to GPs for them to deliver travel health services to their patients could be shifted to community pharmacy, suggested Larry Goodyer at a Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) travel medicine conference held in London on 12 March 2015.
Goodyer, who is head of the Leicester School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University and the superintendent and director of Nomad Travel Clinics, stated that 2% of the global sum funding for GPs is payment for the provision of travel vaccinations and advice. GP workloads have increased in other areas, leading to many practices referring would-be travellers to travel clinics and pharmacies. “It raises questions about the continuation of NHS funding or whether the money should shift,” said Goodyer.
Pharmacies need to decide what level of service they want to provide to travellers, ranging from a basic offering involving provision and administration of vaccinations up to a full consultation including a risk assessment, he continued. The choice needs to be informed by the pharmacy’s population, he said, explaining: “People who are going to a conference in a five-star air-conditioned hotel or on a resort holiday don’t need a full risk assessment, just some advice, information and vaccines. But a higher level of expertise is needed for many other patient groups, such as those doing voluntary services overseas (VSO), people visiting friends and relatives abroad, and backpackers.”
Anyone involved in travel services needs to ensure they have undertaken appropriate training, Goodyer continued, adding that the ongoing level of activity in the pharmacy would determine whether competence would be maintained. Because offering a travel health service can be time consuming, there are also business implications to consider, he said, so pharmacies need to think about whether or not to use an appointment system or whether to employ a second pharmacist.