Community pharmacy overview

Community pharmacies are situated in high street locations, in neighbourhood centres, in supermarkets and in the heart of the most deprived communities. Many are open long hours when other healthcare professionals are unavailable. There are several different types and sizes of community pharmacies, ranging from the large chains with shops on every high street or within supermarkets, to small individually owned pharmacies in small communities, in the suburbs and often in deprived areas or rural settings.

The traditional role of the community pharmacist as the healthcare professional who dispenses prescriptions written by doctors has changed. In recent years, community pharmacists have been developing clinical services in addition to the traditional dispensing role to allow better integration and team working with the rest of the NHS.

The Community Pharmacy Provider Board (Bolton Local Pharmacy Committee, Greater Manchester Community Pharmacy Provider Company and Greater Manchester Local Pharmacy Committee) works with wider primary care colleagues through the Primary Care Provider Board with Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership (GMICP) to support integrated working with wider health and social care colleagues across Greater Manchester.

Community pharmacists are easily accessible, with 673 community pharmacies in Greater Manchester located where people live, shop and work.

The latest information shows that:

  • 89 per cent of the population in England has access to a community pharmacy within a 20-minute walk
  • More than cent 99 per cent of those in areas of highest deprivation are within a 20-minute walk of a community pharmacy
  • As the accessibility of community pharmacies is greatest in areas of higher deprivation, they may have an important role to play in reducing inequalities

Community pharmacy is consequently a socially inclusive healthcare service, providing a convenient and less formal environment for those who cannot easily access or do not choose to access other kinds of health service. Most pharmacies now have a private consultation area specifically for confidential or sensitive discussions.

NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework

The NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) consists of three levels of services:

  1. Essential services, such as dispensing, management of repeat dispensing, disposal of returned medicines and healthy lifestyle promotion
  2. Advanced services, such as Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, hypertension case-finding, GP Community Pharmacist Consultation Service and the new medicines service, which are agreed nationally
  3. Enhanced and locally commissioned services such as stop smoking, sexual health and substance misuse services, which are agreed in Greater Manchester

Pharmacy owners (contractors) must provide essential services, but they can choose whether they wish to provide advanced and enhanced services.

Further information can be found on the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) website.

National Pharmacy Advice Audit

A national Pharmacy Advice Audit was run by PSNC between 31 January and 11 March 2022. A total of 4,139 community pharmacies in England participated in the audit, the findings of which clearly demonstrate that patients and the public are now more reliant than ever before on pharmacies for healthcare advice, and demonstrate the increasing workload and support community pharmacies provide to the wider NHS.

The full report and a summary of the audit findings are available on the PSNC website.