Pharmacies offer vital support for our health services

The pharmacy network provides smoking cessation and sexual health services. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
The pharmacy network provides smoking cessation and sexual health services. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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Communities can only benefit from joined-up thinking on policy, writes Harry McQuillan

Health budgets continue to remain under pressure in Scotland as funding remains restricted across all government spending. The Community Pharmacy Scotland Manifesto calls for investment in preventative health services to ensure our NHS is sustainable.

Public health services have been a core element of the NHS community pharmacy contract for almost ten years now. A great deal has been achieved. The pharmacy network provides successful high-quality smoking cessation and sexual health services.

Our manifesto calls for an evolution of NHS vaccine services to improve patient choice and help protect all of us from the spread of infectious disease. The community pharmacy network in England has become a key provider of NHS flu vaccines services. A failure for Scotland to follow this model runs the risk of the country falling behind its neighbours. The implementation of effective vaccine programmes is vital.

Community Pharmacy is already delivering a successful emergency contraception programme which has improved access to sexual health services for women across Scotland. To build on this success we are proposing developing this service to include long term contraception through NHS contracted pharmacies.

Our final public health proposal to the government is the inclusion of the pharmacy network in strategies to reduce excessive alcohol intake by the people of Scotland. Alcohol Brief Interventions are an evidence based method of engaging members of the public on their drinking habits. Services have already been developed for healthcare professionals to use in primary care settings like a community pharmacy.

Harry McQuillan is chief executive of CPS