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Encourage health and wellbeing with named pharmacists, says NHS Alliance

Practice A national healthy living programme that included pharmacies and other local providers could be linked to services such as smoking cessation and obesity management

Patients should be encouraged to develop a health and wellbeing plan with a named pharmacist as part of a national healthy living programme, primary care organisation NHS Alliance has recommended.

The organisation commended the healthy living pharmacy concept but was "disappointed" that the initiative had not been commissioned nationally, it said in its response to NHS England's Call to Action consultation, which closed last week (March 18).

Health and wellbeing plans should be linked to smoking cessation, obesity management and alcohol awareness services located in pharmacies and other local providers. Community pharmacists should be contracted to employ "health champions" to work closely with GPs to drive this healthy living initiative, NHS Alliance said.

NHS Alliance has recommended named pharmacists draw up health and wellbeing plans that are linked to services such as smoking cessation and obesity management

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The organisation called on NHS England to commission all community pharmacies to install a touchscreen to allow patients access to NHS Choices in-store. This would encourage patients to visit pharmacies as a place to discuss their symptoms, it said.

The commissioning body could also help "reduce the burden on general practice" by extending the MUR programme and establishing pharmacists as alternative providers of contraceptive services, NHS Alliance said. It was "ridiculous" community pharmacists could be trained to supply emergency hormonal contraception but were not able to supply the combined oral contraceptive, it said.

NHS Alliance echoed the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's consultation response by calling for NHS England to support the development of a new category of pharmacist prescriber. These would have similar prescribing skills to district nurses or health visitors and would be able to prescribe medicines through a national minor ailments scheme, the primary care body said.

"The NHS should recognise that many people with a wide variety of conditions use over-the-counter medicines recommended by the community pharmacy without ever seeing a GP. This is a situation to be encouraged and expanded," NHS Alliance said.

It also called for 100-hour pharmacies to become involved in joint rotas with GPs and nurses to provide 24-hour care to patients in their area.

Pharmacists should organise groups where patients with similar long-term conditions could share their experiences, it said. And CCGs should bring community pharmacists together with GPs in small localities to work together to create "robust referral mechanisms", it added.

NHS England will use the Call to Action responses to inform its strategy for primary care, which is due to be published in autumn.

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