Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru candidate for Llanelli, has been finding out how constituents are benefiting from the expertise of pharmacists during a recent visit to Tycroes Pharmacy in the northern part of the Llanelli constituency.
Welcomed to the pharmacy by Tycroes Pharmacist, Helen Palmer, and Royal Pharmaceutical Society Board Member, Richard Evans, Ms Jones was told about the important role pharmacies play in local communities. As the first port of call for patients and members of the public, community pharmacies provide a wide range of services today including the safe supply of medicines, the treatment of minor ailments, supporting people to stop smoking, and giving general health advice about healthy living, diet and exercise.
The availability of a health care professional in the local community and without the need for an appointment was heralded as the greatest advantage offered by community pharmacists.
Commenting on her visit Ms Jones said “I was delighted to visit Tycroes Pharmacy and to hear how constituents in the Llanelli area can benefit from their pharmacy. It is clear pharmacists offer a range of services and advice to help improve people’s health. We must ensure that the next Welsh Government fully harnesses the potential of the pharmacy profession in new approaches to health care. Patients must be put at the heart of services and supported by arrangements that use the full range of health professional skills available, including those of pharmacists”.
Ms Jones was advised that the traditional perception of the pharmacist has changed dramatically into a more patient-facing role. Helen Palmer said “Most community pharmacists have consultation rooms and patients can benefit from confidential advice on their health and how to get the best from their medicines. A review of patient medication by a pharmacist is also available in almost all community pharmacies and this can help to iron out any problems with medicines”.
It was explained that the role of community pharmacists should more important in the future for treating chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma. These conditions are almost always treated by one or more medicines. As the experts in medicines, pharmacists have a vital role in ensuring the right medicines are used in the right way. If arrangements were put in place by Local Health Boards, pharmacists would be well placed to work more closely with patients with chronic conditions and their GPs to improve their health and wellbeing.
Richard Evans said “The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling for the next Welsh Government to develop a pharmacy-led chronic medication service. This service will benefit patients through regular reviews and the prescribing of appropriate medicines by a pharmacist, ensuring their care is maximised. It will also help to ease the current pressures on GP services in Wales”.
Reflecting on the visit, Richard Evans stated “It was a pleasure to meet with Helen and to explain the benefits of pharmacy in our local communities. I was particularly encouraged by Helen’s positive response to calls for an increased role for pharmacists in managing patients’ chronic conditions, which will have real benefits in Llanelli and across Wales”.