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Policy: PAGB position on pharmacy reforms
Published on: 2 November 2016
PAGB and Pharmacy Voice produced a joint briefing for MPs ahead of a debate on Community Pharmacy on 2 November.
This briefing, which outlines PAGB’s position on the pharmacy reforms, makes six policy recommendations which we believe would enhance the role of the pharmacist and off-set pressures in other parts of the NHS by encouraging patients to visit their pharmacy.
National campaign to educate people about pharmacy. Most people are not aware that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals and therefore visit the GP for advice instead. The Government through NHS England and Public Health England should partner, and match funding, with the pharmacy sector in a national public education campaign
Zero rate VAT on sales of all over-the-counter products. Smoking cessation products all enjoy a reduced VAT rate of 5%. Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, there is now an opportunity to reduce taxation on over-the-counter medicines. This could encourage people to self care, rather than visit the GP for a prescription, and increase usage of community pharmacies
Introduce a reclassification target to switch more medicines from prescription only status. Increasing the range of medicines available to buy over-the-counter will increase convenience for people and reduce NHS costs for GP appointments and prescriptions
Ensure NHS 111 algorithms refer more callers appropriately to pharmacy (work under way should be prioritised). An estimated 20% of GP appointments and 19% of visits to A&E are for self treatable conditions; yet only 1% of callers to NHS 111 are referred to a pharmacy. Improving the NHS 111 algorithms should reduce the number of people visiting the GP or A&E unnecessarily, and provide more and better options for appropriate care, while taking advantage of the extended evening and weekend hours of many pharmacies
Enable community pharmacy to refer people who need medical attention to the appropriate healthcare professional. This would encourage people to visit a pharmacy first because they would know they would leave with either a medicine or advice to make them feel better, or a referral/appointment with another healthcare professional – fast-tracked if the pharmacist felt this was necessary
Enable community pharmacy to ‘write’ in patient records so that any medication and advice given can be recorded. Most pharmacies can now access health records but they can’t record the advice/medication they give so people may still prefer to visit the GP for continuity of care. Enabling pharmacists to write to health records would mean that advice and treatment given in other health settings (GP, hospital) can take general health, underlying conditions and medicines use into account.