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Charity launches free sleep training courses to boost pharmacists’ skills

A newly founded charity has launched online training courses to help community pharmacists better assist patients struggling with sleep disorders. 

The on-demand online classes include “training around insomnia, snoring and sleep apnoea”, British Society of Pharmacy Sleep Services (BSPSS) CEO Adrian Zacher told C+D.

Pharmacists can access the courses free of charge, via the BSPSS website.

The BSPSS charity was registered last month (April 7), and was founded with the aim of bringing “sleep expertise to the high street”, CEO Adrian Zacher told C+D.

Trainee and qualified pharmacists can become BSPSS members for free, while the charity will be funded through sponsors, Mr Zacher explained.

 

Why was the charity created?

 

Before launching the charity and classes, Mr Zacher and his team surveyed 120 community pharmacists in July 2021, of which 75% were based in the UK.

Pharmacists were asked whether patients visit their community pharmacy to seek help with sleep issues.

The survey results highlighted that “unfortunately, to a large extent, community pharmacists had no formal education about sleep disorders”, Mr Zacher said.

Part-time community pharmacist and BSPSS president Gareth Evans told C+D that establishing the charity – which brings together pharmacists and sleep practitioners – “really sets out why we are here, to educate and support pharmacists in sleep disorders to the benefit of their customers”.

“Pharmacy is ideally placed to do this,” Mr Evans added, suggesting that the NHS would save money if sleep disorders were “more effectively screened and signposted, or even treated within primary care”.

Mr Zacher’s background is in sleep, he told C+D, having spent years making oral appliances for patients with issues including obstructive sleep apnoea. He has previously co-founded the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine, after realising that while dentists can help with benign snoring, “no one thinks to go to [them]” for the issue.

However, patients do visit their community pharmacy for advice on sleep issues, he said, which is how the idea for the BSPSS came about.

“What we’re trying to do is improve community pharmacists’ knowledge around suspected sleep disorders to progress patients – it seems the right thing to do,” he said.

 

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