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Boots community pharmacist joins NHS70 celebration of primary care

02 May 2018

On 5 July this year, the National Health Service (NHS) in England is turning 70.  As part of the NHS70 celebrations, the renowned institution is taking a look back across the decades - exploring the evolution of clinical service provision and the changing roles of healthcare professionals.

In 1948, NHS England was launched with the aim of transforming the health and wellbeing of the nation. As well as celebrating its achievements over the last 70 years, NHS England is marking the occasion by recognising the continued efforts of its extraordinary staff and wider healthcare colleagues. The institution has commissioned a number of informative videos, in which healthcare professionals talk about their current roles and responsibilities and how they differ to that of their colleagues from previous generations.

Nilisha Patel, community pharmacist at Boots Crown Point Retail Park in Leeds, joined fellow healthcare professionals to talk about the vital role primary care plays in our local communities. When asked how pharmacy has changed since 1948, Nilisha talked about the diverse role of a modern pharmacist, with the rise of clinical services and patient-centred care.

Nilisha explained, “the Pharmacy profession has developed vastly over the last 70 years. Before we were known as dispensing chemists, but over the years the focus has shifted from dispensing [medicines] to providing patient-centred care.”

Before the introduction of pre-made drugs, Pharmacists traditionally prepared bespoke medicines behind the counter known as ‘nostrums’. Thanks to years of pharmaceutical research and manufacturing advancements, the role has evolved to focus on providing clinical advice and additional services, which play a vital role in community healthcare provision today.

Watch this video and hear from a dentist, optometrist, GP, general practice nurse and pharmacists about the importance of primary care and how their roles have changed since 1948.

Before the introduction of the NHS, equal access to medicines and healthcare support did not exist in the way we know and expect today. Medicines varied in price and were often only affordable to those better off in society. Steps were taken by organisations such as Boots, who in 1894 reduced the prices of prescriptions and set a uniform rate across its stores. However, before the National Insurance Act made this a countrywide law in 1911, this wasn’t common practice. Boots was also the first chemists in the UK to introduce qualified nurses into its stores in 1924. This service was provided freely and gave customers free and easy access to a medical professional before this became available through the NHS over 20 years later.

When health secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital) in 1948, it was the climax of an ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all. This goal was, and still is, close to the heart of the Boots business which has championed everyone’s right to access affordable healthcare for the last 170 years.

The history of the NHS is one of evolution, of responding to the changing needs of the nation. In addition to providing healthcare free at the point of delivery, the NHS has improved public health by delivering significant medical advances such as widespread vaccination and the near eradication of diseases including polio and diphtheria. Like the NHS, Boots too has evolved to expand its service offering and provide the best possible care for its customers and patients.  Working with the NHS and other primary care providers, Boots continues to drive innovations in patient care today.

Read more about #NHS70 and the spotlight series primary care edition 

Discover Boots heritage

Boots Leeds Dewsbury Road, c.1925

Boots Nurses School Clinic, 1931