Last week I had the pleasure of meeting community pharmacists at a seminar. It was a delight to hear about initiatives which are having a real impact on the health of individuals and communities. One such idea is Healthy Living Pharmacies.
The initiative aims to enable the public to access health advice in the local high street. There are more than 2000 qualified health champions working within community pharmacies. The aim is equality of access and every interaction is an opportunity for health promotion.
In a world where supported self management of long-term conditions will need to be enhanced and improved - along with the education and empowerment of patients, families and carers - pharmacists will play an even greater part in ensuring patients are informed and have greater control over their health choices.
Our pharmacy colleagues are providing a fantastic service to the community in the advice and help they can offer patients,helping them avoid unnecessary trips to the GP and A&E. It might be argued that they are, in some cases, 'triaging' people before they reach the doors of the GP surgery. Certainly they are providing an informed signposting service, reassurance and treatment for those with minor illnesses.
At the seminar, a proposal was made that community pharmacists offering such a comprehensive service might be renamed as 'Walk-in Centres', a suggestion which gained momentum throughout the morning.
Pharmacists make a huge contribution to the health of communities. As nurses working in the community and in primary care, we know the importance of building excellent relationships with our local pharmacists. Community nurses regularly spend a day with a pharmacist during their specialist practice programmes. Pharmacists could be supported to spend time with a nurse working in the community. Reciprocal understanding of each others' roles could only support better multidisciplinary working, and improve and enhance our patients' health and wellbeing.