Report reveals extent of hidden value of community pharmacy


A report commissioned by Community Pharmacy Scotland published today has quantified the ‘ART’ (Advice, Referral and Treatment) of pharmacy within the community pharmacy network in Scotland.


The report estimates that community pharmacy teams in Scotland give advice to people accessing their services 2100 times every hour. Extrapolated over a week this equates to 84,000 advice only consultations. The study estimates therefore that community pharmacy teams in Scotland conduct advice only consultations 1.67 times every hour.


Pharmacy Sites 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Total Advice 37 78 146 84 85 85 80 62
Hours Open 53.5 47.5 50.5 40.5 41.5 62 55 51
Advice Per Hour 0.69 1.64 2.89 2.07 2.05 1.37 1.45 1.22


Table adapted from the ART of pharmacy report.


Although the pharmacist was found to be the pharmacy team member giving advice most often, the pharmacist advice only interventions account for less than half of the total contacts in the study.


Staff Role n %
Pharmacist 305 46.4
Technician 61 9.3
Counter Assistant 269 40.9
Student 22 3.3


Table adapted form the ART of pharmacy report. (n=657)


Across Scotland, eight community pharmacies were selected for inclusion in the study. The study sites were sought to represent the diversity of community pharmacies based on several factors: relative deprivation of the pharmacy postcode, urban and rural locations of the pharmacy, and whether the pharmacy was independent or part of larger multiple groups. The results from these eight pharmacies were then extrapolated to estimate Scotland wide activity in the community pharmacy network.


Other key findings in the report include:


  • Over 80% of people are completely satisfied with their community pharmacy experience.
  • 90% of people want GPs and pharmacists to work closer together for their benefit.
  • Around 60% access their community pharmacy due to their relationship with the pharmacy team.
  • 41% of people would go to their GP if the pharmacist was unavailable.


The most common reason for accessing the services of community pharmacy was to collect prescribed medication (60.3% of visits), followed by buying medicines (23.3% of visits), seeking medical or health advice (13.7% of visits) and general shopping (2.7% of visits).


The authors of the report concluded the following:


“Community pharmacy in Scotland is highly regarded by the patients that access their services and provides alleviation to general practice services. Perceptions of both the service and interactions with staff were highly reported and the staff-patient relationship appears to be at the cornerstone of patient experience.


“Instances where advice-only is the outcome of patient consultation should receive greater recognition in its contribution to the services community pharmacy provide due to the time it occupies and the staff knowledge demonstrated therein. The service provides full satisfaction to most of those who access it, despite a limited public knowledge of the capacity and diversity of community pharmacy.”


In a statement released today Community Pharmacy Scotland commented:


“Community pharmacy teams have forever known that they dispense advice and refer on to other parts of the healthcare system with no way of knowing the scale of that impact. This study highlights the significant role community pharmacy teams play in encouraging self-management and acting as a touchpoint for Health and Social Care at the heart of the community as a key component of the primary care team.


“As well as the headline statistics we also have a report that has experience of team members and the public through case studies. The diverse range of individuals highlight community pharmacy’s impact in terms of lived experience. These are individuals that are supported in communities throughout the country in pharmacies every day. They value their relationship with community pharmacy.”


Professor Harry McQuillan CEO of Community Pharmacy Scotland said:


“CPS is delighted with the report which demonstrates the clear value of community pharmacy team. The report allows us to highlight this value with key decision-makers. NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will only add to this report in terms of data.


“This report, alongside this new service, should support further development of Pharmacy First so that the right person can receive the right care in the right place, with that place so often being the pharmacy at the centre of the individual’s community.”


“CPS would like to thank everyone who contributed to and helped produce the report the report.”



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