Are enhanced pharmacy services value for money?

May 12, 2010

Recent changes to the NHS community pharmacy contract in England and Wales have led to a range of services, like smoking cessation and supervised methadone administration, which were once the reserve of general practitioners but which will now be provided through a private market dominated by large corporations.

But are these enhanced services value for money and what are their implications for patient care? Two public health specialists discuss the issues in a paper published in the today.

In 2005, the government argued that expanding the range of services provided by private for-profit community pharmacies would increase access and patient choice, reduce general practitioner workload, and lower costs to the NHS. The UK general medical services contract and the pharmacy contract allows a shift of NHS services from general practice to private for-profit community pharmacies in England.

But Elizabeth Richardson and Allyson Pollock from the University of Edinburgh say that a lack of centrally collected data "makes it difficult to draw general conclusions about their effectiveness and efficiency."

"Value for money is also difficult to determine," they add, "because the true costs of providing pharmaceutical services are obscure, especially in relation to premises and staff."

While good evidence supports the provision of some extended services, like and emergency hormone contraception supply, the evidence base on value for money and effectiveness of more complex services - such as opportunistic screening and minor ailment clinics - is limited and more research is needed, they argue.

They point to commercial which, they say, are at odds "with public health priorities" and could undermine pharmacists' professional role. There is a risk too that, as more services are contracted out from the NHS, the boundaries between public and private funding and provision will also become blurred and difficult and costly to monitor and regulate.

As the health systems of Scotland, England, and Wales diverge it will be important to monitor these market oriented changes and their implications for the NHS and its patients, write Richardson and Pollock.

They conclude: "The absence of national data, central monitoring, and research into these changes means that the effectiveness, equity, efficiency, value for , and above all the implications for access, safety, and quality of patient care are not known."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.