Community Pharmacy Thames Valley and Buckinghamshire Council have written to Healthwatch Bucks in response to our report on community pharmacies.

In August 2023, we shared the findings of our survey on people’s awareness of the services offered at local pharmacies.

We asked Buckinghamshire residents how much they knew about what was available, and about why they would – or would not – use different services.

Key recommendations

We recommended that Buckinghamshire Council should work with service providers to:

  • Encourage more people to use healthy living services at pharmacies.

We recommended that Community Pharmacy Thames Valley:

  • Enables patients to feed back their experiences of visiting community pharmacies so that these can be used to help improve services.

We recommended that the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (BOB ICB) should work with Community Pharmacy Thames Valley (representing local pharmacy contractors) and community pharmacies to:

  • Increase publicity to improve awareness of services in line with the NHS delivery plan for recovering access to primary care.

Responses

Craig McArdle, Corporate Director for Adults and Health at Buckinghamshire Council, wrote to us and said:

Many thanks for sharing your report and for all the hard work that clearly went into it. The range of services being offered by community pharmacies has really expanded in recent years, so I completely support your recommendations aimed at improving public awareness of what they can access in these locations.

I know that our commissioning team is already engaged in working with local pharmacies to promote a more universal service offer (for example, encouraging more providers to offer free emergency contraception), and our public health team are working across the system to support healthy lifestyles. We will continue to ensure these remain a priority area of our focus.

In its response to our report, Community Pharmacy Thames Valley said:

Community Pharmacy Thames Valley would like to thank Healthwatch in Buckinghamshire for their report and subsequent recommendations.

We can always do more to promote the services that Community Pharmacy offers. To that end we appreciate your list of recommendations.

BOB ICB’s Place Executive for Buckinghamshire, Philippa Baker, wrote to Healthwatch Bucks to thank us for our work. She said:

Tackling inequalities of access and knowledge of all primary  care services – including community pharmacy – are already cornerstones of both the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) Joint Forward Plan and the BOB Integrated Care Strategy. Work has also begun on the BOB Primary Care Strategy – and your report and its recommendations are welcome additions to the intensive engagement work which will shape it.

We are aware that more can be done by working closely with Community Pharmacy Thames Valley to ensure we make best use of their resources, for example digital screens in pharmacy stores. We thank the team at Healthwatch Bucks for their report and raising these important issues.

Downloads

Buckinghamshire Council – response

Community Pharmacy Thames Valley – response

BOB ICB – response

Published on 24 Oct, 2023 (updated 3 Jun, 2024)

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