Community pharmacy’s representative bodies are demanding greater clarity on the proposed Health and Care Bill set out in today’s (May 11) Queen’s Speech.
The bill incudes plans to transfer some decision-making powers from NHS to the health secretary, achieve greater integration between different health and care providers and reduce bureaucracy.
Commenting on the bill, Company Chemists’ Association chief Malcolm Harrison said the legislation should be used to fully integrate community pharmacies into the health and social care landscape.
Mr Harrison said: “When community pharmacies are fully integrated into local healthcare systems there are multiple benefits for patients and the NHS.
“As well as their role as experts in medicines, community pharmacy teams have proven that they can support other elements of the health service to meet the urgent care needs of local populations. It is vital that these capabilities are recognised by local systems so that the appropriate referrals are made.
“The recognition of the value of community pharmacies shown by the public and many leading politicians during the pandemic needs to be translated into legislative change that will cement this vital sector’s role in all health systems.”
Meanwhile, Royal Pharmaceutical Society England board chair Clair Anderson said that while greater collaboration has long been a priority “legislation alone will not guarantee success”.
She commented: “How these changes are implemented on the ground will be key and there are still a number of questions on issues such as leadership and governance, clinical and patient engagement, and the scale of future changes to commissioning.
“We welcomed the commitment from the Government’s White Paper to work with the health and care system in developing this implementation programme. If we are to learn the lessons from Covid-19 and truly build back better with innovative approaches to patient care, pharmacy must be included alongside other partners.”
Workforce investment and improvements to health and care records will also be needed to deliver integrated care throughout England, Ms Anderson added.
The National Pharmacy Association said: “Today’s speech repeated commitments to fund the NHS to aid the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is essential that the Government keeps its promises to properly fund pharmacy services so that pharmacies can help the nation get back on its feet.”