A survey by the Taskforce for Lung Health has found that 95% of people living with lung disease in England, who use community pharmacies, rated pharmacy services as valuable, essential or something they “could not live without”.
The taskforce, a coalition of organisations including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Asthma UK and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, surveyed 2,100 people with lung conditions during a one-month period in August 2020. The majority of respondents had COPD (47%), asthma (46%) and bronchiectasis (24%).
Of the respondents, 75% said they valued community pharmacy services because they are close to home. Having no need to make an appointment was valued by 48% of respondents, as were convenient opening times, which were cited by 39%.
The results also showed that just under a quarter (23%) of patients were not aware of, or not accessing, all of the services that their pharmacy could offer them. Almost half (48%) of the respondents were not using an inhaler technique service, with a quarter of those saying they were unaware of these services.
In a statement issued on 1 May 2021, the taskforce said that the NHS could do more to help pharmacies to support people living with lung conditions. It called for community pharmacies “to be increasingly recognised as a vital resource, and for pharmacies to be integrated into the way care is delivered across the NHS”.
Anna Murphy, a consultant respiratory pharmacist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, who represents the RPS on the taskforce, said community pharmacies provided a range of clinical services that integrate pharmacists into the patient pathway and the rest of the NHS.
“Community pharmacists have an important role in the prevention of lung disease by encouraging healthy living and stop smoking advice, as well having a regular opportunity to support people with optimising their medicines; for example, inhaler technique,” she said.
“It is reassuring that this survey found people with lung disease find the community pharmacy valuable, but further awareness is required to further promote the services community pharmacies can provide.”
Alison Cook, chair of the taskforce, said that “investing in the services offered by community pharmacies would better meet the needs of people with lung disease, and reduce the pressures faced by the NHS during the pandemic and beyond”.