A survey commissioned by NHS England has revealed there are high levels of satisfaction and confidence among the general public with the care provided by community pharmacy teams.
Polling company Ipsos, which carried out the ‘Public Perceptions of Community Pharmacy Survey’ in July 2022, invited 3,402 randomly selected UK adults aged over 16 years to give their views on community pharmacy.
In total, 2,067 (61%) people responded. Of those who had used a pharmacy in the past year, the vast majority (91%) said they had received good advice.
When asked what services they would like their community pharmacy to provide — excluding obvious services, such as dispensing medicines or selling them over the counter — almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents said a flu vaccination service and a similar proportion said blood pressure checks.
There were high levels of confidence in pharmacist prescribing, as so-called ‘pathfinder’ pilots are set to begin in every region of England from the start of 2023.
Some 77% of respondents said they were highly confident in pharmacists prescribing medication that the patient had taken before, and 70% felt the same about current medication.
However, just over half (56%) of the respondents were only as confident if they had not previously taken the medication being prescribed.
The survey report, published on 29 December 2022, concluded: “The public support for pharmacies providing these types of services suggests that there is potential to further expand the offering at pharmacies, which in turn would reduce the workload for GP practices.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “[The Society is] pleased to see these encouraging figures in terms of patient confidence in pharmacist prescribers. With pharmacist independent prescribing services being trialled across England this year and hopes for all pharmacists graduating as independent prescribers by 2026, we would expect this confidence to grow.
“The government and NHS need to start thinking now about how they will make the most of the workforce, including prescribing budgets in community pharmacy, investment in education and training, better data to inform workforce planning, and the long-awaited roll-out of read/write access to patient records,” she added.
On 4 January 2023 in a speech setting out his priorities for 2023, prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “As the NHS works with professions to develop a workforce strategy early this year, I’ve asked them to consider how we can best support doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, like pharmacists, to work more flexibly.”
Under changes to the initial education and training of pharmacists, all pharmacy graduates will be independent prescribers at the point of registration by 2026.