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Public wants pharmacies to play greater role in mental health and in care homes, NPA finds

However, awareness of the extent of services on offer in community pharmacies remains low, an online survey by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has found.

The NPA appraised 2,600 UK adults between October 8 and October 11, using the market research agency Research Without Barriers.

Four in 10 respondents said they wanted pharmacies to “play a greater role” in supporting people with their mental health and to provide more clinical care to patients in care homes – 39% and 40% respectively.

However, the survey found that just 24% of respondents thought it would be “appropriate” to ask to talk to someone about their mental health in their local pharmacy.

A large proportion (67%) supported pharmacies supplying medicines for minor ailments to lessen the load on the NHS and GPs, the study also found.

The NPA publicised the results ahead of its week-long Ask Your Pharmacist campaign, running between today (November 1) and November 8.

This year’s theme is ‘Your local pharmacy can help’, aiming to clarify all the areas pharmacies can provide support in – from help with medications and weight management to blood pressure checks. The campaign will also highlight the expansion of NHS services made available in pharmacies in 2021 in order to increase their uptake.

The campaign includes resources for pharmacists to invite local politicians and MPs to their premises, to bring them up to speed on pharmacies’ latest improvements and generate publicity.


“Limited awareness” of pharmacy services


A third of respondents (32%) were unaware that pharmacies offered flu jabs, the NPA survey also found, while 48% knew to go to pharmacies for weight management advice and 66% for blood pressure checks.

Four in ten respondents (39%) did not know that pharmacies have consultation rooms providing a range of NHS services, the NPA reported.

“These figures show how much further we need to go to get the message across about the range of services on offer in community pharmacies,” NPA board member Reena Barai said.

A September survey by the independent statutory body Healthwatch also flagged the need to improve promotion of what pharmacies can offer, as C+D reported, though it found that members of the public “generally felt satisfied” with the way pharmacies had stepped up to provide services during the pandemic.

The NPA’s survey also found that 45% of respondents would go to their local pharmacy as the “first port of call” for minor illnesses, while 27% would consult their GP, 17% NHS 111 and 6% would go to A&E.

Of the respondents who said their pharmacy would not be their first port of call, 40% said this was because they thought they would just be referred to a GP and  15% were concerned that there was nowhere to speak privately in a pharmacy.

The NPA also cited figures released by the NHS Business Services Authority last week (October 28), which showed that the number of people protected by pharmacies grew nearly fourfold between 2015/16 to 2020/21.

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