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Pharmacists need more information about local dental services, says Pharmacy Voice

The sector is “ideally placed” to signpost patients to dental services in their area, the representative body said, but pharmacists are not sufficiently aware of what is available

Pharmacists need more informatrion about dental services in their area so they can provide co-ordinated care with other healthcare professionals, Pharmacy Voice has said.

There was a need for improved information-sharing and signposting of patients between pharmacies and dental surgeries, the representative body said last week (May 14) in its response to NHS England's Call to Action consultation on dental care and oral health.

As part of its consultation on the future of dental services, which closed on Friday (May 16), NHS England said it wanted to consider the role of community pharmacists in promoting good oral health.

Pharmacy Voice said the sector was "ideally placed" to signpost patients to appropriate local dental services, but pharmacists were often unaware where these were located.

"Few pharmacies have the right information about which local dentists provide NHS services and which are currently accepting new patients, let alone information about the full range of extended dental services available," Pharmacy Voice said.

Pharmacists needed to work with dentists to ensure they supported the management of self-care and reduced unnecessary GP and A&E visits, it said.

NHS England needed to become further integrated with Public Health England around dental health issues to make "every contact with the pharmacy network count", it added. Pharmacy Voice called for greater collaboration between local dental and pharmaceutical committees as well as greater consistency in commissioning public health services across the two professions.

The role of pharmacy counter assistants should be expanded to include providing "opportunistic" oral health advice to patients, it added.

Pharmacy Voice said pharmacists were well placed to signpost people to local dental services but were often unaware of where these were

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More than five million dental prescriptions, costing approximately £22 million, were dispensed in England last year, Pharmacy Voice said in its response.

A 2009 study in the US showed that pharmacists could play a vital role in alleviating dental problems, particularly toothache, by providing relevant advice to lower income individuals and those without easy access to dental services, it added.

NHS England said the results of the three-month consultation would feed into its overall strategy for primary care, which is expected in the autumn.

Would greater integration with dental services prove beneficial for your pharmacy and patients?
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Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Time and time again we hear that Pharmacists need to work closer with other healthcare providers, when are GPs told to work with pharmacists? When are dentists asked to woerk with us?

I'll tell you when other healthcare professionals are told to work with us, its when they get something for free!! Push it past the pharmacist, theyll do it for free, free BP check, free advice, free glucose test, do you know how much strips cost?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

NHS Choices is a fantastic resource for locating nearby dentists to wherever I am working. A quick postcode search provides me with a list of dentists and contact details and services that they provide.

However I would also encourage healthy communication throughout the whole of the healthcare system as a general rule. Everything just works better when people talk!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Agreed...especially as a weekend pharmacist I'm often asked about out of hours services locally and since PCT disappeared the trail went cold so get customers to phone NHS 111 to get up to date advice.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I am sure it would, but in the grand scheme of things it is minor, and at the end of the day this is just words - once again what we need is actions to come from it. Yet again "pharmacists need to work with Dentists" - how about caring dentists being asked to work with Pharmacists as well

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