Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley has called on the governments of the four home nations to “urgently” provide more funding for the eduction and training of pharmacists to support their “enhanced clinical role".
Responding to a report by the London School of Economics and the Lancet on the future of the NHS post-Covid, Ms Gidley said she welcomed many of its recommendations, including maximising the roles of independent prescribers and ensuring patient care records are shared digitally between health settings.
However, she insisted more needed to be done to improve the quality of care within the NHS. In particular, she stressed that greater support must be available to pharmacists.
“We are pleased to see the Commission agrees with many of our own recommendations on making the most of pharmacist independent prescribers, calling for increased support for professional development, interoperability of care records across all settings and widening pharmacists’ scope of practice so they can use their skills for the maximum benefit for patients,” said Ms Gidley.
“The Commission also highlights the importance of funding education and training to support pharmacists’ enhanced clinical role. We urgently need this investment to become a reality and call on governments across Great Britain to commit to greater funding.”
The report made seven recommendations including increasing investment in the NHS, social care, and public health, improving “resource management” in health and care at national and local level, workforce development and integrating the work of different providers.
Ms Gidley said she agreed with the report's finding that as far as community pharmacists as concerned, “reimbursement mechanisms will need to be reviewed to reflect their changing responsibilities".
“The Commission rightly acknowledges the expanding role of pharmacists to deliver patient care, for example in helping patients and the NHS get the best value from medicines, supporting GP practices and being a first port of call for minor ailments in the community,” she said.
“But it also echoes what we have long been saying: that greater change is needed across care settings if we are to help the NHS meet rising demand, speed up diagnosis, and support the growing numbers of people living with long-term conditions.”
She urged policymakers to reflect on the findings regarding declining public health budgets and consider whether attempts to restructure the NHS "have improved integration or shifted of patient care to community settings".
“The report also sadly highlights how England is the only country where patients continue to pay prescription charges," she added, commenting: "It’s high time the Government scraps this injustice.”