Personal care plan with community pharmacy in the center


The government must develop a national self-care strategy, with community pharmacy playing a central role, to keep people away from unnecessary visits to general practitioners and hospitals, according to major health and industry organizations.

The strategy will not only ease the pressure on the NHS which is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, but will also improve people’s quality of life as well as longevity.

A coalition including clinical commissioners from the NHS, the Royal College of Nursing and the PAGB, the healthcare consumers’ association, called for coordinated policy to improve understanding of self-treating health problems and support options for ‘self-care.

The group also includes the National Pharmacy Association, the Self Care Forum, the Company Chemists Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the National Association of Primary Care, and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.

Outlining its proposals in a new paper, ‘Realing the potential: Developing a blueprint for a self care strategy for England’, the group states: ‘Despite the widely recognized benefits of self-care, there are many obstacles to maximizing the opportunities that exist. he introduces. : Rigid patient journeys, unnecessary prescribing habits and persistent perceptions of hierarchies in the NHS hamper all progress.

Recommending a series of measures to bring about “a global cultural change” in attitudes towards self-care and access to health services, he says:

  • Pharmacists should be more fully integrated into the health system, with the right to update and read people’s medical records;
  • Pharmacists should have the right to refer people directly to other healthcare professionals, so anyone who visits a pharmacy in the first place knows that this will lead them to either the best self-care advice or another appropriate expert.
(Photo: iStock)

Expressing support for the blueprint proposal, Helga Mangion, Policy Officer at the NPA, said: “We support these proposals, which recognize that community pharmacy will need to be at the center of any serious effort to strengthen self-care.

“As the gateway to the NHS, the community pharmacy is an essential part of system-wide support for self-care, leading to better health outcomes and a better quality of life. “

She recalled the NHS long-term plan which highlights the role of pharmacy in the prevention and management of long-term conditions.

Chapter two of the article talks about the same thing – guidance like counseling and pharmacy support go hand in hand.

Mangion added that putting in place an appropriate link or channel between all colleagues in health and social services is going to be absolutely vital for the functioning of the health system.

“Make better use of technology and communications, so that community pharmacists can refer people directly to other healthcare professionals, where appropriate.

“Right now it’s just the other way around, but we need to have a two-way process, a fully integrated primary care network that includes community pharmacy participation as the norm.”

Self-care training

The master plan further recommends the teaching of self-management in primary and secondary schools and its inclusion in training programs for health professionals.

Dr Peter Smith, Chairman of the Self Care Forum Board, said: “Catching an adult is often too late. Health literacy should be integrated into learning and at the elementary and secondary school level, and students should be equipped with the knowledge to take care of themselves, issues that can be addressed by themselves. at the very least. “

Currently, understanding health literacy is optional in vocational training.

Smith said that for continued professional development and the flow of opportunities, training in personal care and health literacy should be made available to all health care professionals, including pharmacists, throughout life. their career.

Go digital

The group also urged policymakers to use digital technology “to its full potential” to expand access to self-care information and support self-treatment options.

Tablet helping pharmacy staff with safe and accurate inventory management.

Stephen Goundry Smith, pharmacist and consultant at SGS PharmaSolutions said: “The right digital background systems could help deliver the knowledge needed to encourage stakeholders in our healthcare services to shift to a culture of self-care”

He underlined the problem of the “digital divide”, where in a region 20% of citizens do not have access to the Internet or to a smartphone.

He added that such “technological barriers can be overcome by community pharmacies, acting as self-care (provider), given their unparalleled accessibility as a service and experiences”.

Community pharmacies can play an important role in establishing self-care centers.

Although the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) is already in place, there is a need to increase referrals to community pharmacies, and referrals can be made from there to other services when necessary and appropriate. , he added.

Pleading for giving access to the care files in pharmacies, he declared: “Access to the summary care file has been very beneficial for the professional activity of pharmacies.

Smith said their ability to write in care records will ensure that self-care facilitated by the community pharmacy is recorded and brought to the attention of other care providers.

Health inequalities

Personal care, a vital part of our health care system, has the potential to reduce health inequalities, said Michelle Riddalls, CEO of PAGB.

Michelle Riddalls, PAGB

“However, too often it goes unrecognized by policy makers.
“A national self-care strategy, as envisioned in this plan developed by a wide range of healthcare and pharmacy organizations, would bring significant benefits for individuals as well as for the NHS as a whole.
The group noted that the pandemic has instilled a clear desire in people to learn more about personal care. This offers a ‘unique opportunity’ to fully integrate personal care into the NHS, freeing up resources such as GP appointments and A&E slots for those who need it most.

General practitioner Dr Sarah Jarvis said: “Integrating the role of the pharmacist as an integral and essential part of the primary health care team can empower patients and make the most of the invaluable skills of our colleagues in community pharmacy.

“This blueprint for a national self-care strategy recognizes the urgent need to make the best use of the resources at our disposal by incorporating an increased role for pharmacists. “

PAGB President Neil Lister noted that before the pandemic, there were nearly 18 million GP visits and 3.7 million A&E visits for self-treating conditions. These conditions could have been easily managed with personal home care or with the advice of a pharmacist.

“Over the past 18 months, the message of Covid-19 ‘stay home’ has shown people that they can take care of minor illnesses on their own. We must allow them to continue to do so now that the restrictions have relaxed. “

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