A new research project to understand the role that community pharmacy can play in supporting the public health agenda during pandemics such as COVID-19 is being launched at Aston University.
Researchers from Aston University, in collaboration with the Universities of Hull, Oxford, Sheffield and Bradford, and colleagues in Australia (University of Tasmania) and Canada (University of British Columbia) will be conducting a “rapid realist review”, an approach that is ideally suited to making sense of complex situations.
Dr Ian Maidment, a reader in clinical pharmacy, said:
“Community pharmacy has a key role to play in the current COVID-19 pandemic. With over 11,700 high street locations, community pharmacies can ensure people from different socio-economic groups and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups have equal access to vaccination and advice.
“This project will enable us to understand how, why, for whom and when community pharmacy can effectively support the public health response to pandemics such as COVID-19 and other future health emergencies.”
Alastair Buxton, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director of NHS Services, said:
“Community pharmacy teams have really gone the extra mile during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is important that we recognise their achievements and also learn from their experiences. This project will help the profession to do both.
“We look forward to the research helping the sector and PSNC consider how else community pharmacies can best play their part in supporting patients and the NHS, as the pandemic continues to take its course.”
Emma Young, the research associate on the project, said:
“Due to their accessibility, community pharmacies are ideally placed to provide support and guidance to the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As a pharmacist and researcher, I look forward to generating guidelines that will help community pharmacists support the public through this challenging time.
Dr Maidment added:
“The role of community pharmacy includes supporting vaccination programmes, medication supply and providing advice to increase the uptake and acceptance of public health measures. Whilst a vaccine may yet be distant, community pharmacy can play a critical part of any mass vaccination programme.
“Community pharmacies also routinely provide services into care homes. Additionally, they may be able to support vaccination clinics at non-traditional sites such as community centres and places of worship.”