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A latest draft quality standard from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) calls for greater use of community pharmacy services in existing care and referral pathways.

Published today, ‘Community pharmacies: promoting health and wellbeing’ quality standard highlights how community pharmacy teams could play a greater role in health promotion, prevention and recognition of ill health as well as managing minor illness and referral to other health and care services.

Pharmacy Minister Jo Churchill said: “Highly-skilled community pharmacists are an integral and trusted part of the NHS and we want every patient with a minor illness, or those seeking wellbeing guidance, to think ‘Pharmacy First’.”

NICE says the informal setting of a community pharmacy may encourage people to ask more questions, consider how they feel or how their lifestyle may be affecting their health.

“Community pharmacy teams can offer support with adopting a healthier lifestyle, including stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and managing weight,” the draft document read.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Keith Ridge said: “The NHS is making care more easily and conveniently available on the high street, with pharmacists offering more expert services than ever before as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Welcoming the draft quality standard, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board Chair Claire Anderson said: “Community pharmacists are one of the most trusted and accessible health professionals for the public and it’s great to see this draft quality standard recognise the valuable role they play.”

“The RPS has long called for community pharmacists to have read-write access to a clinical record and to be better integrated into referral pathways. We’re already seeing some positive steps through Community Pharmacists Consultation Service and look forward to this being expanded, such as through referrals from GPs, to improve patient access and help ease pressure on the health service,” Anderson said.

The draft quality standard is open for consultation until February 14, 2020, and the final guidance is expected to be published on June 2, this year.

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