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Portsmouth’s First Community Pharmacy Summit explores ways of reducing pressures

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Community pharmacies are struggling to deliver important NHS services to patients while remaining financially sustainable 

Pharmacists, councillors and NHS leaders came together at Portsmouth’s first Community Pharmacy Summit to address some of the challenges facing community pharmacy locally.

They explored ways to reduce the huge pressures on pharmacy, tackle abuse towards staff, enable pharmacists to undertake training to treat more illnesses, and to protect the current and future workforce.

Portsmouth City Council, which hosted the Summit on Wednesday 15 November, also invited representatives from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, University of Portsmouth, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board and businesses to discuss new opportunities to work together.

Held at Portsmouth Guildhall, the event was chaired by Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, Health and Care, and Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport.

Addressing the gathering, Cllr Winnington said: “We know from the closure of community pharmacies in recent years, that the sector is under great pressure to keep delivering the really important health services to Portsmouth patients.

“This is why we called the Summit, and it was extremely beneficial to have representatives from across the city together to discuss the difficulties and begin working on ways we can meet the challenges together,” he added.

The experts also discussed helping pharmacists to signpost people with mental health issues to the right services, opportunities to utilise pharmacy students to deliver care, and supporting the safety of staff, particularly during evening hours.

Ideas were put forward to better connect community pharmacy with other areas of primary care, including creating easier digital access.

Artur Pysz, Joint Chief Officer for Community Pharmacy South Central, pointed out that all pharmacy contractors, including multiples and independents, are currently under “unprecedented financial pressure”, resulting in closures and an increasing workload.

“Community pharmacies are expected to deliver more clinical services while national funding remains the same,” he said.

Therefore, he stressed the importance of “working together” to help community pharmacy to continue supporting the whole health sector for years to come.

‘Pharmacy First’ service in England will be launched on 31 January 2024, and additionally the NHS is expanding existing pharmacy contraception and blood pressure services within community pharmacies.

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