LONDON, September 25 /PRNewswire/ --

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has responded to the 2008 Which? report, A test of your own medicine.

David Pruce, Director of Policy at the RPSGB says: "The RPSGB was pleased to see that, since the 2004 Which? report, there have been significant improvements reported in the provision of pharmacy services, particularly with regard to the use of private consultation areas, the supply of Emergency Hormonal Contraception and Medicine Use Reviews being well received by Which? members.

"One of the magazine's own researchers detailed how a pharmacist picked up on her high blood sugar levels, leading to her being diagnosed with diabetes - this is a good example of the tremendous contribution that pharmacists make to healthcare and the lives of patients.

"It is clear that there are some areas that require improvement and we are working with the profession to address these. It is, however, important to put the research in context - the study looked at a small sample size representing less than 1 per cent of all pharmacies in the United Kingdom. Pharmacies offer a high quality of service and advice, with independent research showing that community pharmacists are among the most trusted of health professionals. Their expert knowledge and advice is valued by the millions of patients who visit them every day.

"People can be confident when consulting a pharmacist about health concerns - pharmacists are the health experts in medicines.

"The RPSGB continually works to improve pharmacy standards and training across the profession. In collaboration with the National Pharmacy Association, it is in the process of launching a national 'mystery shopper' initiative that aims to improve the quality of advice for the treatment of minor ailments in pharmacies."

Notes to Editors

About the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation.

- The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy. The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.

- Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.

- The RPSGB is committed to patient safety and as part of its remit has a team of pharmacy inspectors who visit all community pharmacies, offer advice on how they can maintain standards and, in extreme cases, refer pharmacists to the RPSGB's disciplinary committees.

About the Mystery Shopper initiative

- The RPSGB has already invested in a pilot project using 'mystery shopping' techniques to support quality improvement in giving advice on the treatment of minor ailments in pharmacies - in partnership with the National Pharmacy Association. The technique involves sending a "mystery shopper" into a pharmacy to act out a scenario, similar to the Which? report. The "mystery shopper" returns to the pharmacy soon after the visit to give the pharmacist feedback on how effective the interaction was and to highlight areas that could be improved. This supportive model has proven popular with the pharmacies involved in the pilot and has been shown to improve practice. The results have been encouraging and the RPSGB has now received funding from the Department of Health to further extend the project. The project builds on similar, successful work in Australia and Germany.

About consulting a pharmacist

The RPSGB's advice to patients is to offer as much information as possible to the pharmacist or their staff:

- What your symptoms are - How long you've had them, whether you've had them before, and what you think caused them - Whether you are taking any other medications - both prescribed and those bought over the counter (including herbal remedies) - If you are or might be pregnant, or breast feeding - About any other conditions, illnesses or allergies you have - If you are seeking advice for someone else, make sure that all the above information about them.

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit, +44(0)20-7572-2336,