Over 1.1 million patients seek informal consultations a week from community pharmacies located across England, according to latest data from PSNC.
Its 2021 Pharmacy Advice Audit revealed that annually 58 million such consultations are being conducted by community pharmacy teams in the country.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s latest findings follow the audit of almost 6,000 community pharmacies held earlier this year, alongside a series of resources to promote the value of pharmacy advice.
During the audit, 114,898 informal patient consultations were recorded, with the average pharmacy carrying out around 17 consultations per day.
The audit results indicate that every week pharmacies help over 730,000 people seeking advice for symptoms and over 263,000 people about an existing medical condition.
In almost a quarter of these informal consultations (24 per cent), people sought advice about Covid-19.
Pharmacy teams were able to provide expert advice to an incredible 97 per cent of those who sought it, with just over half (54 per cent) of those consultations also led to the sale of a medicine.
The average staff time per consultation was just over five minutes. However, during this audit, 61 per cent of pharmacies reported being under intense pressure, with an average score of 7.66 out of 10 given for pharmacy pressure.
Almost half of people seeking advice said without pharmacy to turn to they would have attended a GP practice, and 8.6 per cent said they had already been unable to access another part of the healthcare system.
A further 9 per cent and 2.5 per cent of consultations were the product of informal referrals from General Practice and NHS111.
The audit showed that every week unpaid pharmacy advice is preventing 70,000 people from going to A&E or an NHS walk-in centre and saving more than 74 appointments for every single GP practice across England.
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: “Thank you to all the pharmacy teams who took part in this PSNC audit. It will provide an important dataset for use in our negotiations with Government.
“The audit results help showcase the incredible work that community pharmacies do every single day and the value that this brings to their patients. They also explore the Covid impact: the additional pressures this has brought for the workforce and the increasing reliance the public has had on pharmacy services during the pandemic.”