Local Welsh pharmacies provide vital service in deprived areas

Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Recent research by the Pharmaceutical Public Health Team reveals that within Wales community pharmacies are more likely to be located in areas of higher deprivation than areas of lower deprivation.
In 1971, the Lancet published an article by Dr Julian Tudor Hart describing the inverse care law, which stated, “the availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for the population served”. 
The Pharmaceutical Public Health Team, part of Public Health Wales, undertook the work on distribution of pharmacies and deprivation, in response to suggestions that offering more services from community pharmacies could contribute to reducing inequalities by virtue of community pharmacies’ locations.
The work looked at the distribution of community pharmacies by deprivation quintile for Wales and for each of the Health Boards.
Anne Hinchliffe, of the Pharmaceutical Public Health team, said:
“This report confirms there are more pharmacies in the more deprived areas of Wales than would be expected based on the numbers of people living in those areas.
“This is encouraging because we already know that people living in more deprived areas are more likely to need the services offered by a local pharmacy.  For example they have more prescriptions which need to be dispensed. 
“People living in more deprived areas are also more likely to benefit from lifestyle changes to improve health and pharmacists and their staff can help people make these changes, such as offering health advice and providing support to stop smoking.
“Having pharmacies where they are most needed is good for business and good for the health of people in Wales.  Building on where we are now, future decisions about where pharmacies are located and the range of NHS services they offer need to be based on the health needs of local communities.”