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Bigger role needed for community pharmacy

Bigger role needed for community pharmacy

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Refocusing pharmacists as care-givers could reduce demand on GPs, out-of-hours services and hospitals, an independent report has concluded. 

The independent Commission into Future Models of Care, published today, urges a radical shift in the role of pharmacists in England. 

Pharmacists across England could treat many common illnesses, supporting people with long-term conditions and challenging wasteful, dangerous, or inefficient use of medicines, the commission said. 

The authors warn that unless this shift takes place, the NHS will be letting down taxpayers and missing opportunities to do more for less. 

The NHS spends £12 billion a year on medicines but 30-50% of patients do not take them as prescribed, and 6% of emergency admissions to hospital are caused by avoidable reactions to medicines.

Dr David Branford chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board said: “Pharmacists need to contribute to better care across all parts of the health service. 

“Priorities are improving the care of people in care homes, supporting older people to stay well in their own homes and working alongside GP, nursing and social care colleagues to keep people safe and to improve health outcomes. I am certain the profession will rise to the clear challenge set out in this report.”

Nuffield Trust director of policy and study author Dr Judith Smith, said: "The pharmacists I met during my work for this Commission are demonstrating that their profession has far more to offer than the public or many people in the NHS understand. Yet all too often their potential is going untapped, and this must change if the NHS is to be able to assure taxpayers that people are being supported to get the best use out of their medicines and pharmacies.

“With care for the frail elderly and emergency out-of-hours treatment at the top of the agenda, the door is open for pharmacists to secure a wider and important role in caring for patients. It won’t be open for long, though, and only concerted and determined action from the profession itself can make sure that they don't find themselves shut out."

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