Pharmacies considered ‘most essential’ local service in annual poll

It is the fourth consecutive year in a row that community pharmacy was voted the most vital local service in the ‘community barometer’.
Pharmacy sign on high street

Community pharmacies are the most essential high street service, an annual poll has found.

The Community Barometer — carried out in June 2024 by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) — asked 2,000 UK adults for their views on local services.

The results, published on 9 July 2024, showed that respondents voted pharmacies as the most vital local service, with Post Offices coming second and convenience stores third.

The list of 16 services also included banks, charity shops and gyms.

It is the fourth consecutive year that pharmacies have held the ‘most essential’ title.

In a report sharing the full findings of the survey, the ACS said: “Pharmacies became more important than ever before during the [COVID-19] pandemic and have held on to that standing with local people.”

When respondents were asked which service has the most positive impact on their local community, pharmacy came second with only Post Offices polling higher.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Rees, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said:“[The poll is a] timely reminder that pharmacies are a local lifeline, which enrich communities across the country and provide vital healthcare for millions of people.

“Yet over a thousand pharmacies have been forced to close in the last decade due to chronic government underfunding. Each closure represents a sad loss to the community it serves and leaves a gaping hole in the high street.”

Also commenting on the survey, Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said: “These results highlight the crucial role of pharmacists in providing healthcare, advice and support at the heart of their local communities and underlines the need for fair funding to ensure patients can continue to access a resilient community pharmacy network.”

In July 2024, the RPS submitted its response to a government proposal to teach school children about the role of pharmacists as part of a proposed changes to relationship, sex and health education (RSHE).

The consultation by the Department for Education, which closes on 11 July 2024, proposes that statutory guidance on the teaching of RSHE in schools should include information on self-care for minor ailments and the role of pharmacists as knowledgeable healthcare professionals.

It also proposes that children learn about how to navigate local healthcare services, including the role of local pharmacies.

Tase Oputu, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said: “We welcome the fact that the revised RSHE statutory guidance proposes to include acknowledgement of the critical role that pharmacists play in self-care.

“The RPS has advocated long and hard for increased awareness of the role pharmacists play in the provision of self-care.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2024, Vol 313, No 7987;313(7987)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.323224

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