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.