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Your local pharmacy: a key part of the NHS team

Your local pharmacy is connected to the wider healthcare system; a key part of the NHS team, aiming to provide seamless NHS care for patients

Like GPs, community pharmacists are part of the NHS family. Every day about 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy in England.

The traditional role of the community pharmacist as the healthcare professional who dispenses prescriptions written by doctors has changed. Community pharmacists provide clinical services in addition to the traditional dispensing role to allow better integration and team working with the rest of the NHS.

A survey in June 2020 revealed that only 29% of people are “definitely aware” that pharmacists are part of the NHS. 39% wrongly think that the majority of income comes from sales of health & beauty products.

✚ In fact, your local pharmacy is a key part of the NHS team, aiming to provide seamless NHS care for patients. They:

➣ Talk frequently to local GPs

➣ View shared patient records in order to ensure safe medicines interventions

➣ Refer people to GPs or hospitals if they see danger signs

➣ The NHS Plan means they are now also taking more urgent care referrals from NHS111 and GP practices, to help people with common illnesses such as coughs, colds and tummy aches.

Part of the NHS family

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other highly qualified healthcare professionals make up the NHS team in your neighbourhood – alongside many other dedicated staff.

Your local pharmacy is the NHS on the high street, providing a range of NHS services and support, including urgent care. NHS111 and local doctors may refer you to the pharmacy for advice and treatment for minor ailments such as coughs, colds and tummy aches. In turn, the pharmacist will refer you for a GP or hospital appointment if something needs checking out further.

The best patient care is usually based on partnership between healthcare professionals, who may work in different settings and have different skill sets, but who come together to provide seamless care for the individual.

The NHS says it wants to “make greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients”. (NHS Long Term Plan). So please make the most of your local community pharmacy: proudly part of the NHS family.

“Pharmacists are a critical part of the NHS family and they are close to the communities who they serve.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP

High Street pharmacists are highly qualified clinical experts who are playing a key part in the NHS’s frontline response to the greatest public health threat in our history.” NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens


Primary Care Networks (PCNs) enable health and other services to work together to provide better access for patients to specialist health professionals and services closer to home.

PCNs are groups of GP practices in a geographical area working closely together – alongside other healthcare staff and organisations, includ­ing community phar­macies – providing integrated services to the local population. Individual GP practices can establish or join PCNs covering populations of between 30,000 to 50,000.

The networks provide the structure and funding for services to be devel­oped locally, in response to the needs of the patients they serve. The aim is to provide better services and care for patients. Community pharmacy teams are encouraged to be fully involved in the work of their PCN.


In January 2019, NHS England published the NHS Long Term Plan, setting out its priorities for healthcare over the next ten years and showing how the NHS funding settlement will be used.

A key theme of the plan is prevention, as NHS England says it believes 500,000 lives could be saved over the next ten years by focusing on prevention and early detection. The NHS will focus on its aim to make the population ‘fit for the future’ by:

✚ Enabling everyone to get the best start in life

✚ Helping communities to live well

✚ Helping people to age well

Other measures include:

✚ Improving out-of-hospital care by supporting primary medical and community health services

✚ Providing better care for major health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and diabetes

✚ Supporting those admitted to hospital with smoking/alcohol addiction

✚ Supporting older people through more personalised care and stronger community and primary care services

✚ Making digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS, so that in five years’ time, patients in England will be able to access online GP consultations.

About the NPA

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