The presence of a community pharmacy on a local main shopping or high street has a significant positive effect on health in the area, a UK report has found.
The report, Health on the High Street, looked at the contribution a number of business types – including pharmacies, tanning salons, bookmakers, fast food takeaways, libraries, pubs and bars, payday lenders, museums/galleries, health clubs and health services – make to their community’s health.
The public were asked whether a range of businesses helped or hindered their health.
Scoring well on health impact were leisure centres, health clubs, libraries, and, while almost two-thirds of respondents said they discourage healthy choices, pubs and bars – perhaps because three-quarters of respondents believe they support social interaction and a third believe they have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
Scoring poorly were tanning shops, fast food outlets, payday loan shops and bookmakers. These were identified by the report’s authors as “hazards on the high street”.
Scored on a combination of public and expert opinion plus a review of the evidence, pharmacies came in third in their contribution to a healthy high street (after leisure centres and health services).
“Community pharmacies offer an ideal location to reach out to the public and provide much needed health support and advice,” the report says.
“Based in high street locations, pharmacies offer greater accessibility than other health care services, with the added convenience of weekend opening times and the lack of an appointment system.”
The report found that:
- of the 11,495 community pharmacies in England, many are already delivering a wide range of health improvement programs;
- the most frequently delivered service by community pharmacies is the smoking cessation service;
- an estimated 95% of people visit a pharmacy at least once a year; and
- an estimated 99.8% of people from the most deprived areas live within a 20 minute walk of a community pharmacy.
“Community pharmacies have real potential to target ‘hard to reach’ groups and with investment, they have the potential to successfully deliver a wide range of services and reach out to those most in need, thus reducing the burden on overstretched primary care services,” the report says.