Community pharmacy: a gateway to health

by  Gill Hawksworth MBE, FRPharmsS and RPS Faculty Fellow

I have been trying to keep track of a gradual change in attitudes about pharmacy and public health and now,18 months on from when the Murray Review was commissioned, find myself asking ‘What does it all mean?’.

In September 2017, several key announcements began with the new Pharmacy Minister Steve Brine who said at the RPS conference that initiatives such as the work of (HLP) and flu vaccination services highlight pharmacy’s role in promoting public health and reducing health inequalities. Also at the Labour party conference, the Pharmacy APPG Chair  and Labour MP for Rother Valley, Kevin Barron, said they would like to see the HLP initiative included in the community pharmacy contract as it has a ‘role to play in improving public health’. This was encouraging, so the message must be getting through somehow to those who could influence change and this is backed up by the news that the Public Health England (PHE) report ‘Pharmacy: A Way Forward for Public Health’ has been published.

This new report sets out opportunities for commissioners, some of whom have previously decommissioned such services, to realise community pharmacy’s role in protecting and improving the nation’s health, flagging up growth in the HLP programmes since a quality payment is now available for attaining HLP1 status. The CPPE are supporting this with leadership for HLP workshops and the paper also looks at developing capacity in the workforce to support promoting health through pharmacy settings and lists smoking cessation among the menu of opportunities for community pharmacists to get involved, timely for the PHE Stoptober challenge.

PHE is working with the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum to collect case studies of promising practice to help identify opportunities to build on current learning and scale what is working and has been shown to have impact.  Interestingly there is already a move in Scotland (the vision of Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care) to expand the public health role with evidenced-based interventions, so pharmacy is at the heart of delivering national health and well-being priorities.

A further focus in September was on support for the role of community pharmacists in antimicrobial stewardship, highlighted in the RPS national campaign, and again during World Antibiotic Awareness Week this week.

There was also an article by Professor David Wright (who’s literature review informed the Murray Review) on the potential for revised Medicines Use Reviews (MURs). We must remember that a range of public health interventions are often part of an MUR. This can include looking after the mental health and wellbeing, as well as physical health, of elderly patients who may be lonely, supported by CPPE’s work on mental health. This also offers a chance for pharmacists to fulfil other roles such as in cancer awareness and screening referral.

Making every contact count and documenting public health interventions may be a good place to start and help to develop the evidence base, remembering that the Murray Review stated ‘we should note that the evidence for (or against) specific clinical services within the peer-reviewed literature is often relatively sparse’.

All this is developing within the context of RPS working with PHE and NHS England to promote the role of pharmacists in public health, with the support of the RPS Professional Standards for Public Health Practice for Pharmacy.

So as attitudes are gradually changing and funding of public health services are being considered in terms of the evidence available, I await, with interest, the public consultation I understand is coming soon on the work by NICE on community pharmacy public health interventions. This deals with the evidence, (RCTs as gold standard) therefore relying on documentation of public health interventions such as alcohol, sexual health and of course smoking. After all, community pharmacists I believe have a good track record in helping people stop smoking.

Pride 2017

By Robbie Turner, RPS Director for England

This weekend sees the Pride in London parade taking to the streets of the city with over 300 groups marching to fight for equality of the LGBTQ community.

Having watched the parade many times before I know that it is often seen as a celebration of what the LGBTQ community have achieved over the last five decades since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. I certainly recognise this progress and as a gay man have always felt proud to be a member of a LGBTQ community which is in the main, welcoming, diverse and accepting of others.

But not every LGBTQ person has the positive experience I do and this can have a significant impact on their health. Research by METRO charity shows that 52% of young LGBT people reported self-harm either recently or in the past, compared to 25% of heterosexual non-trans young people. Also, 44% of young LGBT people have considered suicide compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans people.

To say that 25 years after I came out, young people are still suffering high levels of abuse, discrimination and mental health issues is hugely upsetting. As a pharmacist, I know that there are always competing priorities on our time and resources. But, over this Pride in London weekend, I will be reflecting on what more I can do to help young LGBTQ people and how the Royal Pharmaceutical Society can support pharmacists to do the same.

How to balance your studies and your social life

David Beaumont - PhotoAt last, summer is just around the corner but you’ll probably have to tackle exams before you can officially switch into ‘summer mode’. At this time of year many of you will be busy revising but it’s really important that you get the balance right between your revision, part-time work and relaxing.
Here’s my advice to help you achieve this balance and make this upcoming exam season your best yet…
Read more How to balance your studies and your social life

Five Tips on Stress Management

Reshma ImageFive Tips on Stress Management – by Reshma Bance

Scheduling

Leaving a sufficient amount of time to revise is vital to success. To ensure this is the case, organise a structured timetable and don’t forget to include some time for some relaxation and socialising. During your timetabled hours, if you feel that you are not studying effectively, then take a short break. (Be careful not to let a short break turn into a couple of hours!) Planning and scheduling is key to your success, and can prevent you feeling stressed out. Read more Five Tips on Stress Management

Working in mental health: why I love it

Wendy Ackroyd lead pharmacist mental healthby Wendy Ackroyd MRPharmS, lead clinical pharmacist in mental health for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

I decided to try mental health pharmacy on for size, for six months. That was 15 years ago now. It was a good fit.

When working in community pharmacy, I looked at a list of psychiatric drugs on prescriptions (usually combinations the BNF has a black dot against) and felt out of my depth to challenge it. I imagine there are a few of my colleagues who do this now.

Mental health problems are hard to measure – diagnostic criteria overlaps, you can have more than one at a time and the evidence base is… lets say RCTs contain a few less than the 18,000 subjects you see in a trial of a statin. Read more Working in mental health: why I love it

Your mental health: wellbeing advice from Pharmacist Support

Helen Tester, Wellbeing Co-ordinator from Pharmacist Supportby Helen Tester, Wellbeing coordinator at Pharmacist Support – the independent charity for pharmacists, trainees and MPharm students.

11-17th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week – a time to reflect on and help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. According to an ONS study one in four of us will suffer from a mental health illness at some point in our lives. If this is the case how can we stay mentally healthy? Read more Your mental health: wellbeing advice from Pharmacist Support

Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges

crichards150x150 By Cathryn Richards, Head of Pharmaceutical Services, HMP Swansea

Being a prison pharmacist has its own set of challenges but challenges tend to reap their own rewards. Most of the time I feel like I’m making a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.

I work in a Category B prison holding 445 adult male prisoners with the majority being Welsh.

Prisoners often arrive at the prison emaciated by drugs and alcohol, weak physically and mentally. Read more Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges