Community pharmacists, working from the high street, local and rural pharmacies, use their detailed knowledge to ensure that medicines ordered on doctors’ prescriptions or bought over the counter are correctly and safely supplied, with appropriate patient counseling on use and potential side effects. They provide a convenient source of treatment and advice on minor ailments for the general public.
Community pharmacists are part of the healthcare team. They are concerned with the sale and supply of medicines, and the provision of advice about medicines, symptoms, and general health matters. They dispense medicines, counsel patients on their proper use, clarify dosages are correct and check new treatments are compatible with other medicines the patient may be taking. Community pharmacists also advise on a variety of healthcare issues e.g. stopping smoking, healthy eating, and family planning. The work may involve supplying free literature, supporting promotional health campaigns, or performing screening tests, like blood pressure or cholesterol measurements. Every community pharmacy in Britain must be under “the direct supervision” of a pharmacist. Strict legal and ethical obligations are in place to ensure the control and safe use of medicines within the community.
Community pharmacists’ work may also take them out of the pharmacy to advise on the proper handling of medicines in residential or nursing homes. They may visit house-bound patients to discuss their medicines or deliver fresh supplies. Some community pharmacists also work in GP practices on a sessional basis to advise on appropriate prescribing and review the medicines particular patients are taking.
Primary Care Pharmacist
The role of the primary care pharmacist has emerged over the last five to ten years. The work may include medicines management, prescribing advice, GP practice-based work, professional development adviser, and pharmacy clinical governance co-ordination. They may also work in GP practices as practice pharmacists. The type of work carried out will vary depending on the specific role that the pharmacist has.
In a primary care trust (or local health board in Wales and Scotland) the pharmacist may have a lead role for all issues related to medicines management and prescribing. This may include ensuring evidence-based prescribing practice, formulary development, financial management of prescribing allocations or budgets.