A Realist Synthesis of community pharmacy support for the public health agenda during the Covid-19 pandemic and future health emergencies
Advisor – DT (B’ham)
In April 2020, UKRI and NIHR announced a call for urgent COVID-19 research. RDS WM was approached for input on what was initially a sequential literature review and interviews on community pharmacy support for the public health agenda during the Covid-19 pandemic and future health emergencies. RDS contribution centred on application writing advice and critical review of the proposal by a frontline advisor, RDS West Midlands Birmingham Hub Lead and an expert in systematic reviews. Key advice focused on a strong recommendation to reduce the project timeframe downwards from 9 months to ensure rapid turnaround of urgent work critical to our understanding of how community pharmacies can most effectively deliver services with a focus on COVID-19 vaccination, during the pandemic and beyond. The proposal was refined and ultimately completed within 6-months. RDS contribution also included advice for a more targeted dissemination plan including reduced focus on academic conferences (limited by restrictions on free movement during the pandemic), replaced by emphasising direct engagement with policy makers and COVID response planners. This proposal benefitted from open lines of communication with a regular RDS client, which improved awareness of the suitability of the research team and ensured a rapid RDS response.
The proposal was jointly funded £86,134 by UKRI and NIHR COV0176, and the client’s research has since been published* on 3rd February in time to benefit COVID-19 vaccination rollout. The report indicated 8 key recommendations for decision makers to optimise community pharmacy engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, with a focus on vaccination. The added value of community pharmacy interventions can decrease morbidity and mortality outcomes. The potential impact on community pharmacies is both short-term during the COVID-19 pandemic, and long-term in the probable scenario that COVID-19 becomes endemic necessitating regular annual vaccines.
The NHS Community pharmacy local enhanced service – coronavirus vaccination agreement document sets out in detail of how NHS England and NHS Improvement will commission COVID-19 vaccination services directly from community pharmacies. The agreement document coheres with the recommendations produced by the client’s report including those on adequate remuneration and legal protections. Hundreds of community pharmacies are now engaged in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
* Maidment, I., et al., (2021). A Rapid Realist Review of the Role of Community Pharmacy in the Public Health Response to COVID-19. medRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.01.21250765