’It stayed there, front and centre’: perspectives on community pharmacy’s contribution to front-line healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland

Susan M. Patterson, Cathal A. Cadogan, Heather E. Barry, Carmel M. Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objectives: To explore community pharmacists and key stakeholders’ perspectives and reflections on the community pharmacy workforce’s preparedness for, and response to, COVID-19, including lessons for future public health crises.

Design, setting and participants: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews (via telephone or online videoconferencing platform), with community pharmacists and a range of key stakeholders (representing other health professions, professional/governing organisations concerned with community pharmacy and patient advocacy groups) from across Northern Ireland. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and constant comparison.

Results: Thirty interviews were conducted with community pharmacists (n=15) and key stakeholders (n=15). Four themes were identified: (1) adaptation and adjustment (reflecting how community responded quickly to the need to maintain services and adjusted and adapted services accordingly); (2) the primary point of contact (the continuing accessibility of community pharmacy when other services were not available and role as a communication hub, particularly in relation to information for patients and maintaining contact with other healthcare professionals); (3) lessons learnt (the flexibility of community pharmacy, the lack of infrastructure, especially in relation to information technology, and the need to build on the pandemic experience to develop practice); and (4) planning for the future (better infrastructure which reinforced concerns about poor technology, coordination of primary care services and preparing for the next public health crisis). There was a general view that community pharmacy needed to build on what had been learnt to advance the role of the profession.

Conclusions: The strengths of community pharmacy and its contribution to healthcare services in the COVID-19 pandemic were noted by community pharmacists and acknowledged by key stakeholders. The findings from this study should inform the policy debate on community pharmacy and its contribution to the public health agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere064549
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2022

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