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Audit reveals why pharmacists do not supply OTC products

Rob Darracott: Findings show how pharmacists put patient need before commercial interest

Pharmacy Voice will use its audit on the non-supply of over-the-counter (OTC) products as part of the campaign against the funding cuts.

For its fifth annual audit, the lobbying group asked pharmacists to record instances when they did not supply an OTC product on request.

Using data from more than 5,000 pharmacies, collected between August and December 2015, the organisation said it “cautiously” calculates that community pharmacy teams across England “chose not to supply a requested OTC product over 13 million times” a year.

Reasons for not supplying

The most common reason pharmacists gave for this decision was so that staff could offer advice instead, which accounted for 29% of all recorded instances.

The second most common reason given was signposting to a GP, which accounted for 18% of all instances, Pharmacy Voice said in a report published today (August 18).

Recommendations for self-treatment accounted for a further 6%, while suspicions that the patient would misuse the product accounted for 4%.

Evidence will support discussions on cuts

Pharmacy Voice will use the evidence to “support its ongoing discussions with the Department of Health on their proposals to cut NHS funding for community pharmacy and [the role of] automated services”.

“Such cuts will place frontline pharmacy teams at risk, and limit the public’s access to the kind of professional support and advice for dealing with minor illnesses that is highlighted in this study,” it added.

“Patient need ahead of commercial interest”

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said: “This year’s survey provides yet more insight into how community pharmacists and their teams continue to make use of their clinical expertise and put patient need ahead of commercial interest.”

“We hope the government considers the lynchpin role that community pharmacy plays in local healthcare when reviewing their pharmacy reform proposals,” he added.

 

4 Comments
Question: 
How often do you choose not to supply an OTC product?

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

How does refusing to sell an OTC item and sending the patient to their GP save the NHS money? Bonkers survey. 

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Isn't the point of the survey to both prove the sector's worth and try to debunk the myth that all community pharmacists are ready and willing to milk patients out of their hard earned money?  Sometimes, all a patient or their representative needs is a little reassurance: someone to check the worrisome rash their child has, someone to assess whether a wound has become infected or not, someone to advise on the correct treatment for a physical injury if no analgesics are needed/wanted (e.g. RICE).  You know, the kind of stuff that would otherwise be fielded by a different part of the NHS such as general practice or A&E, both of which are already overstretched parts of the NHS.

If members of our own sector aren't willing to shout from the rooftops about our successes and our strengths, how the hell will (and why the hell should) anyone at Whitehall have any faith in what we do for over 1m people who come to see us each and every day for healthcare products and advice?  

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Pointless audit with dubious results and poorly drawn conclusions.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

And here's me thinking that community pharmacists are all money grabbing, illness exploiting, profiteering monsters...

If a patient doen't need anything, they're not sold anything.  Less than 10% of pharmacies' income comes from OTC sales.  When will people (including pharmacists from other sectors and GP staff) realise this?

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