Russell George MS was invited to experience firsthand the range of NHS clinical services provided by community pharmacies in Wales.
Llanidloes Pharmacy has recently (June 2023) undergone a full refit, including the addition of two extra private consultation rooms, providing spacious modern facilities from which trained pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can provide increased levels of pharmacy services to people living, working, and visiting the local area. The project was created through the Transforming Towns programme.
Local Senedd Member Russell George was invited to visit the refurbished site and to discuss E-prescribing, Independent prescribing, and Common Ailments service . Llanidloes pharmacy has been providing NHS funded community pharmacist prescribing service since 2016, when it was a pilot site for what in April 2022 became a nationally available service.
The Community Pharmacy Independent prescribing service enables suitably trained pharmacists to diagnose, advise on and treat a range of conditions including urinary, respiratory and skin infections and oral contraception. This is in addition to longer standing pharmacy services such as emergency contraception and support to stop smoking, all of which can be accessed at Llanidloes Pharmacy.
Despite the success of sites like Llanidloes Pharmacy, pressures persist in many community pharmacy teams across Wales due to workload, staffing and costs, with just a 1% increase in funding offered by Welsh Government for this year (2023). Community pharmacies are facing significant cost pressures from increasing staff costs, rising energy bills and other inflationary cost pressures associated with property rates.
Some Pharmacies are said to be having difficulties in obtaining stock of vital medications, with pharmacies having to purchase some drugs at a much higher cost than they are reimbursed by the NHS currently. As a result, contractors are indicating that they are considering reducing their opening hours or charging patients for non NHS funded services like home delivery, and there threatens to be a number of pharmacy closures in Wales.
Commenting after visiting, Mr George said:
“It was fantastic to meet Dylan and the team again and see firsthand the difference community pharmacy is making in Wales. In rural areas such as Llanidloes pharmacies provide a focal point for the local community, and a healthcare destination for those visiting the surrounding areas.
Having seen firsthand the benefits of the Independent Prescribing service for myself I can really see its value to patients and to the NHS in Wales – making it easier to access advice for minor conditions and allowing GP and out of hours services to focus on more chronic or serious conditions.
I’m sure with the right support in the coming years community pharmacy can continue to show that it is part of the solution to some of the challenges facing the NHS now.”