Pharmacy Voice welcomes the emphasis on the long term consumption of alcohol above safe levels in the Health Select Committee report released today. Pharmacy Voice wrote to the committee earlier this year about community pharmacy’s potential to tackle alcohol misuse.
In its response earlier this year to the House of Commons Health Committee Inquiry into the Government’s Alcohol Strategy, Pharmacy Voice pushed for identification and brief advice in pharmacies to be made more effective and efficient, through the setting of a national service specification.
Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of Pharmacy Voice said:
“There is growing evidence, particularly through the developing Healthy Living Pharmacy programme, which clearly demonstrates how pharmacy can play an active and important part in delivering identification and brief advice on alcohol use as part of its role in public health. Pharmacies provide high quality NHS health and wellbeing services and are already helping to tackle local public health challenges like alcohol misuse, by better educating people about the risk of exceeding recommended alcohol units, using, for example, innovative alcohol scratch cards. Pharmacy is well placed to help provide this information and support – we need to see this more widely acknowledged by commissioners. The social return on investment in alcohol interventions must not be underestimated, as well as the obvious health benefits.
“The establishment of Public Health England, and the work of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum, is an opportunity to design a single national specification for pharmacy-based identification and brief advice. Designing such a service once, at a national level, using all existing experience and evidence, would enable local authorities to roll out this highly effective service quickly, without diluting their ability to shape services locally to meet specific population needs. Local authorities should focus their attention on the scale and location of alcohol-related issues – identified in their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment – and commission in response to this. Service redesign at a local level is inefficient and should be avoided wherever possible. Having a single service model should also help simplify referral pathways.
“Evidence from the Scottish pharmacy contract, where key services are commissioned nationally, shows what an impact this can have. Supplies of emergency hormonal contraception quickly rose four-fold after the introduction of a national service in 2008. More than half of all NHS-funded attempts to stop smoking in Scotland now happen in pharmacies.”
“We would like to see an explicit acknowledgement of community pharmacy’s potential to support safe alcohol use – and we shall follow this up with Mr Dorrell, the committee chairman.”