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Strategy for community pharmacy needed to deliver its full potential

It’s a key component of the primary care team, argues New NHS Alliance

Caroline White

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The NHS needs a new model of care for community pharmacy to realise its full potential as an integral component of the primary care team, argues the New NHS Alliance in a new position paper.*

With nearly 11,700 pharmacies, community pharmacy in England, represents health on the high street and within our communities, it points out.

The NHS needs clinical pharmacists within general practice, urgent care, out-of-hours, nursing homes and many other multidisciplinary teams. But a strategy is also needed to deliver its potential within a community pharmacy setting, says the Alliance.

“There is no community pharmacy-led vanguard or PM challenge fund programmes despite Simon Stevens’ assurance that we ‘need to take action on four fronts’,” comments New NHS Alliance pharmacy lead, Mark Robinson.

The four fronts describe tackling the root causes of ill health: giving patients more control of their own care; changing to meet the needs of an aging population, living longer with long-term conditions and wanting their care to focus around them; and delivering new models of care.

The paper recommends that NHS England pays specific attention to commissioning a community pharmacy-led new model of care with the emphasis on fully using the pharmacist’s expertise within the heart of communities.

GPs should support community pharmacy as the first call point for patients with acute self-limiting conditions and minor ailments, both as commissioners and partners in delivery and they should have a leading role in the commissioning and development of services from community pharmacy, it says.

GPs, community pharmacy representatives, and government should work together to reclassify medicines and reconsider NHS reimbursement, it recommends.

And it says that GPs should take a lead in ensuring that complete pathways of care avoid duplication of effort. They should also identify situations where, once the diagnosis has been made, the complete care of that condition can be transferred to the community pharmacy under an agreed treatment protocol.

Directors of Public Health, CCG commissioning leads, GPs and community pharmacy representatives should create a local plan to support community pharmacies in delivering a consistent public health message and associated services to their catchment population, it recommends.

Dr Mark Spencer, co-chair, New NHS Alliance, said the body expressed disappointment that no new model of care had been developed for community pharmacy. “The NHS has failed to fully utilise the expertise of the community pharmacist within their locations in the heart of many communities,” he insisted.

“We must recognise [it] as a professional clinical retail healthcare environment and as an integral member of the primary care team. We must also recognise the pharmacy’s unique position within the community and its ability to reduce demand within general practice as part of the solution to the crisis within general practice,” he added.

* Supporting the Development of Community Pharmacy Practice within Primary Care. New NHS Alliance, 2016.

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