RPS survey illustrates value of pharmacists to holistic patient care

An RPS survey of pharmacists has provided a glimpse into how much the profession is contributing to providing patient access to medicines care across the NHS. More than 450 pharmacists responded to the survey revealing how many patients they help every week through providing services including treating common ailments and stop smoking advice as well as dispensing prescriptions.

Unsurprisingly the top task reported was dispensing and checking medicines. More than 1 in 4 respondents said they carried out an average of more than 500 clinical checks on prescriptions in a week and nearly half carried out an average of more than 500 accuracy checks - 28 said they did this more than 3,000 times.

Medicines advice and support was also high on the list of activities. More than two thirds of pharmacists said they dealt with at least one patient urgent medicine request every week, more than half of this number reporting they did this at least once a day. Sixty per cent said they helped improved quality of care by carrying out medicine use reviews with patients every week – 75 per cent of this group did this on average at least once a day.

Furthermore a large number of respondents (more than 80%) said they spent time with patients to ensure they understood how to take their medicines and provide training on how to use medical devices (such as inhalers). Most of this large group said they did this on average at least once a day.

The survey also revealed the amount of help pharmacists provide to the wider NHS. Two thirds of pharmacists told us they helped someone with a common ailment, with nearly 90% of this group reporting treating a common ailment on average at least once a day. A dedicated eight pharmacists said they treated more than 500 common ailments in a week.

More than 40% of pharmacists provided emergency contraception at least once in a week. A similar number provided diabetes management, with more than a third of this group reporting doing this on average once a day. More than a third said they helped people with substance misuse at least once a day.

And half said they regularly helped people stop smoking - 40% of this group saying they did this at least once a day.

Help for other NHS professionals also took up a large part of their time. Nearly 90% said they provided advice to other health professionals. More than two thirds of this group said they did this every day - 11 owning to doing it more than 100 times in a week.

Patient home visits were undertaken by 15% of pharmacists at least once a week – for care home visits this was 4%.

And let’s not forget the small number of pharmacy technicians who also took part in our survey. Most respondents spent some time assembling medicines for dispensing – a sizable proportion of 62 said they did this more than 1,000 times in a week.

The RPS pharmacists survey received 454 responses from pharmacists across all sectors as well as a small number of pharmacy technicians. The largest numbers of respondents were from community pharmacists (64%) and hospital pharmacists (32%).

The survey asked pharmacists to log and share the amount of services and interactions with patients they provided in a week.