Primary health care policy and vision for community pharmacy and pharmacists in Spain
From a political and governance perspective Spain is a decentralized country with 17 states [comunidades autónomas] resulting in a governmental structure similar to a federal state. The various state regional health services organizational and management structures are focused on caring for acute illnesses and are dominated by hospitals and technology. In a review by the Interstate Council, a body for intercommunication and cooperation between the state health care services and national government, there is a move to improve health care through an integrative approach between specialized care and primary care at the state level. Community pharmacy does not appear to have a major role in this review. Primary health care is becoming more important and leading the change to improve the roles of the health care teams. Primary care pharmacists as the rest of public health professionals are employed by the respective states and are considered public servants. Total health care expenditure is 9.0% of its GDP with the public health sector accounting for the 71% and the private sector 29% of this expenditure. Community pharmacy contracts with each state health administration for the supply and dispensing of medicines and a very limited number of services. There are approximately 22,000 community pharmacies and 52,000 community pharmacists for a population of 47 million people. All community pharmacies are privately owned with only pharmacists owning a single pharmacy. Pharmacy chain stores are not legally permitted. Community pharmacy practice is based on dispensing of medications and dealing with consumer minor symptoms and requests for nonprescription medications although extensive philosophical deep debates on the conceptual and practical development of new clinical services have resulted in national consensually agreed classifications, definitions and protocolized services. There are a few remunerated services in Spain and these are funded at state, provincial or municipal level. There are no health services approved or funded at a national level. Although the profession promulgates a patient orientated community pharmacy it appears to be reluctant to advocate for a change in the remuneration model. The profession as a whole should reflect on the role of community pharmacy and advocate for a change to practice that is patient orientated alongside the maintenance of its stance on being a medication supplier. The future strategic position of community pharmacy in Spain as a primary health care partner with government would then be enhanced.
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