New report highlights how pharmacies could be the key to keeping local communities healthy

Public health services from pharmacies play a pivotal role in keeping the nation well.

Liverpool John Moores University and the Medway School of Pharmacy have produced the first baseline map of service commissioning by local authorities in community pharmacies across England. Published in the BMJ Open, the study provides a picture of public health services commissioned through community pharmacies by local authorities.  

The data collected will help to inform discussions about service provision between commissioners and community pharmacy, and highlight differences between service commissioning and apparent local need.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society Director of England Robbie Turner said: "This study reveals a mismatch between the health needs of local populations and the services commissioned which is concerning. England has wide variations health outcomes across local authority areas and commissioners need to work with local pharmacists to provide a clear strategy of where the greatest health gains can be made by providing services that meet the needs of local populations.

"Pharmacy teams can make an impact on public health when population health needs and services are aligned. The Healthy Living Pharmacy is a successful model aimed at achieving consistent delivery of a broad range of services to reduce health inequalities. Better public health has a vital role in reducing costs to the NHS and social care and the accessibility and reach of pharmacies mean they can make a unique contribution to improving health outcomes.  Unfortunately, public health services are being reduced in some areas as local authority budgets are squeezed which could see health inequalities worsen to the detriment of individuals and society as a whole."  

The full study is on BMJ Open: A cross-sectional study using freedom of information requests to evaluate variation in local authority commissioning of community pharmacy public health services in England