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RPS: Women’s health should be part of pharmacy undergraduate training

Claire Anderson: "Pharmacists can improve women’s awareness of what is normal and what is not"

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president has called for women’s health to be covered as a part of pharmacists’ undergraduate training, in a push for equal healthcare.

In a statement published yesterday (July 19), Clair Anderson pointed specifically to improved training for pharmacists and a need for more research into how medicines work specifically on women.

“Improved guidance on medication in pregnancy and breastfeeding is needed to ensure pharmacists can provide consistent, evidence-based, reliable information and advice to women across Great Britain,” Professor Anderson said.

“Pharmacists can help reduce stigma and improve women’s awareness of what is normal and what is not, covering issues like endometriosis, excessive menstrual bleeding, menopause and incontinence,” Professor Anderson added.

Women’s health training part of ongoing development

RPS released a position statement this month, detailing its recommendations for improving women’s health in the UK.

In the statement, the RPS argues that women’s health knowledge – which it says needs to be part of the core undergraduate training – “should then be built on throughout pharmacists’ ongoing professional development, including foundation and advanced pharmacist educational frameworks, and prescribing training”.

Included in those recommendations are calls for improved guidance on the safe use of medicines during conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The RPS is also advocating for all pharmacists to have access to shared patient records, and for pharmacists to be involved “from the earliest stage” in any service redesign or policy development as “medicines are one of the most common interventions in healthcare”.

The pharmacy body suggested a campaign to reduce the stigma around women’s health, to “improve women’s awareness of what is normal and what is not”. It also wants women’s health services to be “culturally aware and appropriate”, to accommodate minority ethnic and LGBT+ patients.

Mental health support for women should be “better resourced and available for women at all stages of life”, the RPS said, adding that “pharmacy teams can recognise mental health issues, provide advice and medication, and signpost to other services”.

It also stressed that when referencing “women” in the context of healthcare, it includes anyone who identifies as a woman or who no longer identifies as such but still has women’s health needs.

Is pharmacy already making gains in women’s health?

Earlier this month, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved two desogestrel contraceptive pills, Lovima and Hana, to be made available in pharmacies without a prescription from the end of July following a consultation with a pharmacist.

In March this year, pharmacists in Liverpool were commissioned by the local clinical commissioning group to prescribe treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), while Superdrug launched its own at-home UTI test and treat kit after noticing a 38% rise in demand for treatment.

What training would you like to better help patients with women's health issues?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Ms Professor CA seems a bit behind the times, I can recall a 3 hour lecture block, at the end of my degree, on Women's health, and that was 30yrs ago.
What we didn't have was any lectures on men's health. And I think in today's climate of increasing male suicide, perhaps, for equality reasons, Professor CA might have mentioned men's health too. Rather than talking about every other minority group of 1 per centers, but forgetting the health of the other half of the population. We urgently need more mental health support for men in this country.

I don't want to read a Guardian style article about
'chest feeding' style issues, who have plenty of other support groups, ( I have nothing against that community) but find it rather strange that Professor CA has just ignored half the health of the UK !

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