Only half of people were aware that GPs can formally refer patients for same-day clinical advice from their local pharmacist about minor ailments, a survey from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has shown.
A survey of just over 1,000 adults in England found that 51% knew about the GP Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and that 56% were aware that pharmacies in England offer NHS consultations under the New Medicines Service.
The questionnaire also highlighted that while 68% knew that they could get a flu jab at many pharmacies, there was less awareness of other services, with 48% saying they believed that the majority of pharmacies in England offer blood pressure monitoring, either privately or on the NHS.
But 55% are now aware that most pharmacies have consultation rooms, an increase of 11% from a similar survey conducted by the NPA five years ago.
The results were released ahead of Ask Your Pharmacist Week, the annual awareness-raising campaign organised by the NPA and supported by NHS England (31 October–7 November 2022).
Stephen Fishwick, head of communications at the NPA, said: “The results of this survey show that there is still some way to go in terms of raising the public’s awareness of the clinical services now available in pharmacies.
“During Ask Your Pharmacist Week we’ll focus on specific NHS services, like the New Medicine Service, rather than a more general message about pharmacy advice.”
Heidi Wright, English practice and policy lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “There’s more to be done to increase understanding of the clinical services that are available in community pharmacies but it’s positive to see public awareness of consultation rooms is up from the previous survey.”
But Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, called for pharmacy to be seen as the first port of call for people seeking advice and support in managing minor illness: “Our comprehensive proposals for a ‘Pharmacy First’ service, that we submitted to government and the NHS earlier in , would help address these issues.”
The government has previously suggested that it was exploring a national ‘Pharmacy First’ minor ailments service that could commission pharmacies in England to offer direct advice, treatment and referrals to patients presenting with minor conditions, without a referral from a GP or NHS 111.