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How The Pandemic Is Changing Community Pharmacy

The coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on community pharmacy, leading to changes in the working lives of pharmacists and their staff. These informative topics can be easily highlighted in an essay format by an expert essay writer

Pharmacists have seen a huge increase in demand for their services as patients struggle to access other healthcare providers, such as GPs, dentists and hospitals. In April 2020 — the first full month of lockdown — the number of accident and emergency visits more than halved compared with the same month in 2019, suggesting some people were unwilling to visit hospitals. Many others have had treatment for less urgent conditions delayed. Throughout this, community pharmacies have remained open, offering a vital service accessible to all.

Some of the adjustments pharmacies have made during the pandemic have been stressful, and pharmacists will be pleased to see the back of them. But there are other changes that have been more welcome, and which could be the start of a permanent shift in the way pharmacists and their teams work.

1. Improved collaboration with other healthcare professionals

Many community pharmacists have seen improved collaboration with other healthcare professionals and greater involvement with primary care networks (PCNs) during the lockdown, and would like these to continue.

Laura Buckley, who works both as a pharmacist in primary care and as a locum community pharmacist in Hull and East Yorkshire, says: “I feel there is definitely more communication between community pharmacy and GPs.” Now people are accessing pharmacies first, “we have to talk to each other more”, she explains. “The surgeries seem to be more open to discussing [a patient’s medicines] with community pharmacy and have more time for us.”

PCNs are another area where engagement has been given a boost. Reena Barai, who runs an independent pharmacy in Sutton, London, says: “We have had a really good working relationship [with the local PCN] over the last three months.” Community pharmacy is part of the newly formed community response team set up in the PCN, she says, which also draws on GPs, the voluntary sector, and mental health and district nursing teams. It has regular meetings to discuss pressures on services and offer support where vulnerable patients are identified. Along with these useful information an essay typer can write my essay for me now to highlight that content in an essay format.

However, Dorset community pharmacist Mike Hewitson — who agrees engagement has improved — points out that pharmacists need to be recompensed for the time they spend on work for PCNs. “[GPs are] being paid to contribute to PCNs but pharmacists are expected to do it for the warm feeling it gives them.

2. A wider role in primary care

The lockdown period has highlighted the potential for pharmacies and pharmacists to take a wider role in primary care in the future. “We are the only part of primary care that has been open throughout,” says Hewitson. “Everyone else was told to shut up shop for their own safety — but we were told we had to stay open.”

He points out the “pharmacy first” message has been promoted for minor illnesses for many years, but has only really seemed to hit home during the coronavirus crisis: “In community pharmacy, we have spent years pushing for things to happen … suddenly the rest of the NHS decides it is what they want and it happens overnight!” This has led to more people coming to pharmacies with a broader range of problems; some that pharmacists have been able to resolve and others that have needed referral to a doctor or dentist. An essay writer can write an essay for me now to highlight that pharmacy content in an essay format.

3. More remote consultations

There has been a lot of media interest in doctors conducting patient consultations over the telephone during the pandemic, but pharmacists have also made more use of technology — whether it is just the telephone, or a webcam for virtual consultations. This has enabled them to reach patients who were shielding and could not leave home, for example, and has also reduced the need for face-to-face contact with others. Using remote consultations has given patients a choice about how they interact with pharmacists and allowed pharmacy teams to manage their workloads more effectively.

In England, some patients referred to the community pharmacist consultation service through NHS 111 have been dealt with over the phone, and pharmacies have still been able to claim the normal fee. Pharmacists have also been conducting the new medicine service via phone and can now do so via video too. Medicines use reviews can also now be provided by telephone or video consultation. These topics needs to be highlighted in an essay format by an expert essaywriter

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is asking for additional investment for remote consultations as part of its funding negotiations with the government. It has also suggested that pharmacists could use video or telephone calls to consult with patients before this year’s flu vaccination, which would help to limit face-to-face contact.