Commissioners must recognise “the value of pharmacy” in order to provide better sexual health services to patients, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
In a report designed to “raise awareness with commissioners” about what services community pharmacy can offer, PHE said pharmacists are “well placed” to provide sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services.
“Community pharmacies are a health, social and a community asset with strong links to the diverse and vibrant communities they serve,” the report said. “They are accessible to all — especially deprived communities who may not access other conventional NHS services — helping to reduce health inequalities and the burden on existing providers.”
But it added that services such as the supply of emergency hormonal contraception, Chlamydia screening and treatment, sexual health promotion and providing information on HIV “are not consistently provided across the country”.
“There are variations in service delivery and quality,” the report said. “It is critical that there is a more consistent approach, integrated with other service providers.”
It concluded that in order for this to happen, “commissioners need to recognise the value of pharmacy teams as a key asset for the provision of [these services]”.
“A more consistent and integrated approach, working alongside commissioners and other professionals, is needed to ensure consistent quality standards and seamless delivery of a comprehensive [sexual health, reproductive health] and HIV service within pharmacies across the country,” the report said.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has previously called for a nationally commissioned sexual health service as “the demand will always be there”, regardless of location.