Community pharmacy is continuing to play an integral role in the National Health Service this winter.
Building on last year’s successful introduction of the National Influenza Adult Vaccination Service delivered through community pharmacies, pharmacists are again providing ‘flu vaccinations to eligible patients in this ‘flu season. Over 810,000 vaccinations have been carried out so far this year – more than for the whole of the 2015-16 season.
As part of the reforms to community pharmacy announced on 20 October 2016, the Government is increasing its role in reducing pressure on other parts of the system. For example, this season’s Stay Well This Winter campaign points people to visit their pharmacist at the earliest signs of feeling unwell, and before their condition gets more serious, to prevent them ending up at their general practice or emergency care department.
In addition, a new community pharmacy pilot scheme, the NHS urgent medicine supply advanced service, was launched in December 2016 and will run until the end of March 2018. Under this service, those who need urgent repeat medicines are referred by NHS 111 directly to community pharmacies, where appropriate, relieving pressure on urgent and emergency care services by shifting this demand from general practitioner out of hours providers. This is being funded by the new Pharmacy Integration Fund and will be evaluated to inform future commissioning decisions.