Living with a lung condition: helping pharmacists to help patients

We need to do more to help community pharmacists support patients with lung disease.

Pharmacists are ideally placed, particularly when it comes to ensuring patients are taking the right medicine, safely and effectively. They do a good job, but their impact is held back by limits on the number of formal medicines reviews they can carry out each year, set by the Department of Health and Social Care. We want this cap to be lifted so that more patients can benefit.

We also want a better system for community pharmacists to let GPs know that a medicines review has taken place, to make sure that their records are up to date and to avoid the same thing being done again by someone at the GP practice.

The role of community pharmacists in supporting patients

Angela Chalmers is a community high street pharmacist in Hertfordshire. She believes that the Medicines Use Review (MUR) is an essential tool to help patients manage their lung conditions. It is particularly valuable when it comes to advising people to use their inhalers, as in her experience, many patients do not know how to use their inhaler correctly.

“When an inhaler is prescribed, there is a lot of information given to the patient all in one go” she says. “A 15-minute appointment with the GP is not long enough to fully go through inhaler technique and it is difficult for patients to absorb all of the information during one visit to the surgery.” This is where the role of community pharmacy and a MUR is so valuable, as the pharmacist has time to talk the patient through their medicines. Being able to advise patients on correct techniques with inhalers and oral health means they are less likely to develop a sore throat or other side effects.

Community pharmacy plays a number of important roles in patient care. “As a community pharmacist, who is passionate about lung health, I am always looking for the opportunity to help patients with their medication, whether this is through counselling, MUR or supporting with self-care,” Angela adds. “Improving adherence saves money for the NHS and improves patients’ lives.”

Measure of success

The cap on NHS Medicine Use Reviews and NHS New Medicines Services to be lifted in one year.

Read our specific recommendations