An alarming number of people are still visiting their doctors for seasonal conditions (such as sore throats and colds) with some patients even exaggerating the severity of their symptoms to be seen by a doctor quicker. New research by the PAGB (Proprietary Association of Great Britain) has found that 32% of people visit the doctor with conditions that could be cured with advice from their local pharmacist and OTC medication1
John Smith, chief executive of the PAGB said, ‘With peak cold and flu season now upon us, it is crucial people have a better understanding of when they should visit their GP or A&E and when advice and treatment from a local pharmacist would be more appropriate. This would save the individual time and could also free up an appointment for someone who really needs it.’1
These new findings come at an interesting time for community pharmacy as the Department of Health look to reward those who can evidence a better quality service to patients. The Quality Payment Scheme which started in December 2017 and runs until March 2018 was introduced to ‘help to relieve GP’s workloads, and help bring about real practical long term change.’2
In light of this push to better improve community pharmacy services, it is important to understand how patients and the public currently view community pharmacy. A recent article published by the Health Expectations journal set out to collectively review patient and public perspectives of community pharmacies in the UK.3 The review kept uncovering the same three conclusions from a multiple of individual studies.
Attitudes towards perceived ‘barriers’
The studies within the review found that a ‘perceived lack of privacy and confidentiality’ were the biggest barriers in community pharmacy. Patients suggested that the thought of being overheard,particularly in supermarket pharmacies meant these were not appropriate venues for prescribing. Other barriers included, concerns over pharmacists having enough time for additional responsibility and consultation rooms.
The notion that physicians are superiors
Across the studies reviewed it was found that (generally) patients viewed GPs as more knowledgeable and better trained. However, it was also proven that good or bad experience with either a GP or a Pharmacist would greatly influence the perception of the patient.
The retail element of community pharmacies plays a large role in perceived trust. The greater the effort to promote community pharmacy services combined with the use of merchandising has led the public to view pharmacies as profit centric. The public would chose a known or family GP over a community pharmacy as they felt that their individual care needs were viewed as more important.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the approach needed for community pharmacies is not universal. In order for community pharmacies to succeed in both delivering great patient care and making the most of the Quality Payment Scheme it is paramount that integration remains the main focus. If you have any advice or your own success stories concerning patients utilising your services we would love to hear from you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Public still failing to exploit pharmacy as first point of call [online] Viewed December 2017 http://www.independentpharmacist.co.uk/pharmacy-still-overlooked
- New plans to modernise community pharmacies [online] Viewed December 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-modernise-community-pharmacies
- Patient and public perspectives of community pharmacies in the United Kingdom: A systematic review [online] Viewed December 2017 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hex.12639/full