Associate Pharmacist

In response to a Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee Inquiry, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said that community pharmacies can help reduce health inequalities in the country.

The NPA said that continued development of community pharmacy services in Scotland to include Pharmacy First Scotland and expansion of the Community Pharmacy Public Health service has progressed the contribution and evidence of community pharmacy in tackling health inequalities.

The aim of the consultation was to explore the progress towards tackling health inequalities in Scotland since 2015. It also looks into any cross-sectoral work undertaken over that time period to address social inequalities and what impact this has had on health inequalities.

The response states: “The COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on Scotland’s 1258 community pharmacies, which have become the visible face of the NHS on our high streets. They have been on the front line of the battle against coronavirus since day one, staying open and serving patients, when most healthcare providers closed their doors and suspended face to face services to the public.

“Community pharmacists even in non-pandemic times, are the most accessible health professionals, available conveniently to the patient without appointment, often at times when other health professionals are not available.”

Some other points noted by the NPA include:

There is the opportunity to pilot new healthcare services which may reduce health inequalities, with pharmacy as the initial setting. For example, pharmacy is ideally placed to explore emerging opportunities from genomics to enhance pharmaceutical care, or to expand the community pharmacy Public Health Service to further support women’s health or provide weight management services.

The recently introduced Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards will enable the opioid substitution treatment services within community pharmacy to be further developed.

Data from the network of pharmacies’ NHS supply of medicines and patient care service activity can be scrutinised to provide evidence of community pharmacy influence on health equalities.

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