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Millions to benefit from improved access to treatment, check-ups and health advice from pharmacists

Millions to benefit from improved access to treatment, check-ups and health advice from pharmacists

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by The Government News Network on

White Paper Outlines Bigger Role for Pharmacists in Treating Sickness and Promoting Good Health

From the most deprived to the most remote areas of England, millions more people will have faster and more convenient access to the health treatments, care and advice they need, as local pharmacies gear up to play a bigger role in frontline healthcare, Health Minister Ben Bradshaw announced today.

The White Paper Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future sets out how pharmacists will work to complement GPs in promoting health, preventing sickness and providing care that is more personal and responsive to individual needs.

Pharmacists already play a vital role for local communities in dispensing medicines and providing services such as supporting people who want to give up smoking.

This extended role will see many more pharmacists being able to prescribe for and deal with minor ailments on the NHS, as well as promoting good health, supporting those with long-term conditions and preventing illnesses through additional screening and advice.

This will enable pharmacies, many of which already open out of hours - and some working as late as midnight - to provide increased access to medicines and care.

Under the new proposals, pharmacies will:

* become "healthy living" centres promoting health and helping people to take better care of themselves;

* be able to prescribe certain common medicines and be the first port of call for minor ailments - saving every GP the equivalent of around one hour per day, adding up to some 57 million GP consultations a year;

* provide support for people with long-term conditions - such as high blood pressure or asthma - 50 per cent of whom may not take their medicines as intended - especially those starting out on a new course of treatment;

* be able to screen for vascular disease and certain sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia;

* work much more closely with hospitals to provide safe, seamless care; and

* play a bigger role in vaccination.

Supporting this programme, the Department of Health will appoint two new pharmacist clinical directors who will champion change in hospitals and in the community.

Ben Bradshaw said:

"A pharmacy isn't just a place where you go to pick up a prescription. It's a service, staffed by health professionals who are capable of dealing with minor ailments, screening for diseases and giving health advice to the local community

"As 99 per cent of the population can get to a pharmacy within 20 minutes, everyone will benefit from more types of treatment available through local pharmacies who can prescribe more, advise more and deal with more.

"These proposals are not about pharmacists taking over the work of GPs - it's about complementing them, taking pressure off GPs and enabling them to spend more time with those patients who really need it.

"This White Paper heralds some major changes. We want to hear what people, patients, consumers, the NHS and the professionals have to say. We are therefore holding a series of public events around the country starting on 1 May in London. We will then consult on some key proposals here later this year."

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Keith Ridge said:

"This is a landmark document for both patients and pharmacy. When implemented, it will underpin better care of patients with medicines, will be a major contribution to improving the health of the population and should complete the transformation of pharmacy to a clinical profession."

Sue Sharpe, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said:

"I am delighted that the White Paper proposes implementation of a wide range of community pharmacy based services that will offer people easy access to support to help them stay healthy and extend the part community pharmacists play in the care of people with acute and long term conditions.

"It builds on the new contractual framework, identifying the barriers to developing our role and proposing practical and constructive measures for tackling them. The White Paper includes many innovative proposals and PSNC will look forward to working with the government, NHS Employers and others to deliver the benefits we can bring to the NHS as soon as possible. This is a really positive White Paper for community pharmacy."

Felicity Cox, Community Pharmacy Lead for NHS Employers said:

"This paper provides a clear direction for the development of community pharmacy and paves the way for the increasing contribution of pharmacists to the health of the population. We welcome the proposals in the paper which will enable patients to get easier access to care from their local pharmacist.

"The paper acknowledges the role of NHS Employers in delivering changes to the contract for community pharmacy. As a next step we look forward to working with trusts and the Department of Health to develop our mandate so that we can begin discussions with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and other organisations as soon as possible."

Key proposals for later consultation will include reforming the way in which the NHS contracts for services and 100 hours per week pharmacies.

A further market research report out today, Community Pharmacy Use, sets out the importance of pharmacies to their communities. It says:

* 84 per cent of adults visit a pharmacy at least once a year with 78 per cent visiting for health related reasons;

* adults in England visit pharmacies on average 14 times per year;

* around one in ten people get health advice from their pharmacy but very few use their pharmacy to obtain urgent advice;

* pharmacies are mainly used to get medication that has been prescribed by a doctor and to purchase supplies of over the counter medication;

* there is currently very low use of other health related services such as regular monitoring of current health conditions and health screening for conditions such as diabetes and cholesterol; and

* the majority of people visit the same pharmacy all of the time with around a third of people using a variety of pharmacies but one most often. Those with long term health conditions or disabilities and those who live in rural areas are more likely to visit the same pharmacy.

Notes to editors

1. The White Paper can be downloaded here:

2. The announcement of White Paper as made on 25 July 2007 by the Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo. It can be found at:

3. A Review of NHS pharmaceutical contractual arrangements, a report by Anne Galbraith, is also published today:

4. Details of the forthcoming listening events can be found on the NHS PCC website

5. The qualitative and quantitative research report Community Pharmacy Use can be found at:

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