Nearly 8,000 people were vaccinated against influenza at Welsh pharmacies in 2013–2014, according to data published by the Welsh Government. This represents a higher than five-fold increase on the number vaccinated in pharmacies the previous year — equal to 33 vaccinations per accredited pharmacy.
The service vaccinated 1,960 people who had not been vaccinated the previous year and 5,035 people who had been vaccinated at their GP surgery in 2012.
Roger Walker, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, says the vaccination service has been expanded and variations in service uptake between local health board areas have been addressed. “Around one in four people vaccinated in a pharmacy in 2013–2014 were not vaccinated in the previous flu season,” he says. “Data show that this proportion was higher still in those aged under 65 years and [in at-risk groups]. This demonstrates that pharmacies are making a small but important contribution to increasing vaccine uptake among at-risk populations.”
The number of medicines use reviews (MURs) performed increased to 189,891 in 2013–2014, compared with 173,009 the previous year. On average, this meant 278 MURs were provided by each accredited pharmacy. Walker is encouraged by the increase. “At least 50% of [MURs] have been targeted towards priority groups, such as people at risk of stroke or those who have respiratory diseases — like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Meanwhile, 442 fewer discharge medicine reviews (DMRs) were performed during 2013–2014 compared with the previous year — down to 7,251. Despite this, Walker is confident that pharmacies will respond positively to the announcement in April 2014 that the DMR service has been incorporated into the Welsh community pharmacy contractual framework.
“We have been working with stakeholders across Wales to identify ways in which the service can be developed,” he says. “As part of this, we are investing £280,000 in an IT solution to facilitate the sharing of discharge information between hospitals and community pharmacies.”
The number of prescriptions dispensed in Welsh pharmacies increased by 2.9% in 2013–2014 to 71.2 million. “Despite prescriptions in Wales being free, the rate of growth in prescription volume in Wales is below that in England,” Walker points out.