"As Healthy Living Pharmacies, community pharmacies are best placed as accessible health centres, particularly for those in deprived areas and already play a huge role in reducing the health inequalities, supporting those groups at high risk of Covid-19"

Pharmacy should be at the centre of the government’s anti-obesity drive, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RSP) has said.

Following the launch of Public Health England’s ‘Better Health’ campaign today (July 27), Claire Anderson, chair of RPS English Pharmacy Board, said any plan to support weight management and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes should include pharmacy, the third largest profession in healthcare.

She welcomed the government’s “renewed focus on supporting people to lead healthier lives and reduce their risk of serious illnesses, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the evidence coming out.”

But she noted that “community pharmacies are best placed as accessible health centres, particularly for those in deprived areas and already play a huge role in reducing the health inequalities, supporting those groups at high risk of Covid-19.

“The pandemic has emphasised that collaborative working across healthcare and will be essential for the success of this strategy. We want to see more integrated working across the NHS to ensure the best patient care possible, including more social prescribing referrals and linking up Primary Care Networks further with community pharmacies.

“It is becoming more obvious that A&E referrals and GP appointments can be treated elsewhere and pharmacies are well placed to ease pressures on other NHS services by supporting people with general wellbeing issues, such as obesity. We now need the backing from the Government and NHS to build on the work our profession continues to do on a daily basis.”

Earlier, tagging pharmacy minister Jo Churchill in a tweet, RPS President Sandra Gidley said that the government would have missed a trick if it didn’t include pharmacy in it’s obesity strategy.

To help people trim down, NHS weight management services will be expanding, with more smartphone apps rolled out to imporve lifestyle and overall health, a government statement said.

It added that GPs would be encouraged to prescribe exercise and other social activities to help people keep fit, while cycling pilots in the poorest areas were targeting to increase people’s activity levels.

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