Pharmacy: the Heart of our Community

Published on: 10th February 2022 | Updated on: 30th June 2022

Want to learn more about community pharmacy? Here we explain all.

Community pharmacy is the largest  branch of the pharmacy family.

The Value of Community Pharmacy

Community pharmacy is a hugely important sector in England, which like GPs is part of the extended NHS family. Community pharmacies make a substantial contribution to the healthcare landscape, with about 1.6 million visits to around 11,400 pharmacies every day. Approximately 90% of people in England are just 20 minutes’ walk away from their nearest pharmacy.

More than 1.2 million informal consultations a week – or 65 million a year – are taking place in England’s community pharmacies.

Pharmacies come in various shapes and sizes, from independent family-run premises to the bigger chains like Boots and Lloyds – the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC)* represents them all. Pharmacies are often positioned on high streets, in neighbourhood centres, supermarkets and in the heart of the most deprived communities. They serve these communities by offering walk-in advice and support, including at times when other parts of primary care may be harder to access.

Nearly a quarter of a million consultations are carried out in community pharmacy every week because patients are unable to access their preferred part of the healthcare system.

The traditional role of the community pharmacist as the healthcare professional who simply dispenses prescriptions has changed. In recent years, community pharmacists have been developing a wide range of clinical and public health services which as well as helping patients, support better integration and collaboration with other parts of the NHS. Pharmacies also offer support to many millions of patients with minor health conditions every year.

Every week, pharmacies help over 865,000 patients who are presenting at the pharmacy for clinical advice about symptoms.

We have seen pharmacies step up to the challenges that the COVID pandemic presented by continuously staying open throughout the pandemic, providing more than 5 million COVID vaccinations, distributing lateral flow tests, delivering medicines to the most vulnerable and offering general COVID advice to an estimated 14 million people a year.

Our audit data shows growing patient reliance on advice and care from community pharmacies.

The future role of the pharmacy will undoubtedly change and evolve further, in line with the changing requirements of the NHS and expectations of the public. Community pharmacies are adaptable and resourceful, and under the right funding landscape, they will continue to strive to further improve patient outcomes in the communities they serve.

For further information about community pharmacies and/or PSNC, please contact commsteam@psnc.org.uk

*PSNC negotiates with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) on behalf of all NHS community pharmacies in England. Learn more about PSNC.