Review of the Distribution of Healthy Start Vitamins Through Community Pharmacies

Report on the uptake of healthy start vitamin tablets and drops across Scotland.

3 Healthy Start Vitamins Review

3.1 Review Aims

The review aimed to assess whether distribution through community pharmacies has improved up-take of Healthy Start vitamins and to identify factors which have influenced up-take. The review will inform recommendations for the future distribution of Healthy Start Vitamins.

The review explored the following questions:

  • To what extent had community pharmacies engaged with the pilot?
  • Did up-take increase? How well did the pilot operate? This included Wholesale distribution, availability, access, promotion and engagement with families participating in the scheme.
  • What were the barriers/enablers to improve the uptake of healthy start vitamins - for community pharmacies and NHS Health Boards?
  • Suggestions for improving future distribution of healthy start tablets and drops.

3.2 Review Method

The review of the trial scheme for the distribution of Healthy Start vitamins through community pharmacies was undertaken between December 2014 and March 2015. The review consisted of the following aspects:

  1. Review of the management data collected through the Healthy Start Scheme. Data on the distribution of women's tablets and children's drops was analysed both at NHS Health Board level and at Scotland level (see Appendix 1).
  2. Survey of community pharmacies in Scotland. An electronic survey was sent to all community pharmacies in Scotland via the community pharmacy network. The survey was sent to all 1250 community pharmacies in Scotland and took place between Jan-Feb 2015 and 182 responses were received (see Appendix 2).
  3. Workshops with Healthy Start Leads (representatives from NHS Boards) pre/post review and in-depth interviews with 4 Healthy Start Leads (exploring barriers/enablers to improving uptake in urban and rural settings).

This methodology enabled the Scottish Government to give an indication of the impact community pharmacy distribution has had on the uptake of Healthy Start Vitamins however limitations should be noted; The response rate to the survey was very low (14.6%). This means the review was only able to gather a partial understanding of the views of community pharmacy contractors and their experience of the national trial scheme. Results from the survey therefore do not represent the views of the wider community pharmacy group in Scotland. The review was also based on secondary data sources collected from NHS Boards and a small number of interviews with NHS Healthy Start Leads. Data provided by National Service Scotland reporting was limited to existing analysis of Healthy Start management information, which is provided by Department of Health and HMRC.

The review did not include views from Healthy Start recipients. The findings from the review are therefore are based on views from a limited number of community pharmacies and NHS professionals.


Email: Douglas Armstrong

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