The research – published yesterday (July 29) to coincide with the launch of NHS Pharmacy First in Scotland – estimates that around “84,000 instances of advice-only” interactions take place across the Scottish pharmacy network every week.
Eight community pharmacies in Scotland were selected for the study, which was carried out by Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), University of Strathclyde and Robert Gordon University and aimed to measure the “contributions” of community pharmacy.
The pharmacies involved were given a handheld barcode scanner that they could use on a barcode sheet listing the categories of potential advice given.
Pharmacists were the team members most likely to offer advice, followed by counter assistants, the study found.
Using the evidence gathered during the study, the researchers calculated that community pharmacies in Scotland “could have approximately 84,000 instances of advice-only outcomes with patients in one working week”.
“These advice-only instances demonstrate the capacity of community pharmacy whereby the skills and knowledge of the staff can avoid unnecessary treatments and provide support for self-care,” the researchers said.
“These efforts are not remunerated and generally unrecognised despite requiring both staff time and knowledge,” they added.
The study also aimed to understand the perspectives of those accessing community pharmacy, gathering data by asking staff to provide people with a questionnaire if they received treatment, including the sale or dispensing of medicines.
The overwhelming majority (80%) of the 446 patients who filled in the questionnaire said they were “fully satisfied” with their community pharmacy experience.
Almost 60% of respondents said a key reason for visiting their community pharmacy was having a “good relationship with the pharmacy already”, the report said.
Commenting on the findings, CPS CEO Harry McQuillan said the report allows the sector to “demonstrate the clear value of community pharmacy teams and highlighting it to “key decision makers”.
“This report…should support further development of [NHS] Pharmacy First so that the right person can receive the right care in the right place, with that place so often being the pharmacy at the centre of the individuals’ community,” he added.