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Did Christmas come early?

Will pharmacy contractors have to pay for their own presents, Withering wonders

Just this week, NHS England published its independent review of community pharmacy clinical services that was undertaken by Richard Murray of the King’s Fund. I wish I could be encouraged by it, but I’m feeling too disheartened by the way we’ve been treated this year.

On the face of it, there’s abundant good news, but I don’t see how the report’s recommendations can be implemented without significant investment. We read that renewed efforts are needed “to make the most of the existing clinical services that community pharmacy can provide and to do so at pace”. Great!

Community pharmacists can help people with long-term conditions. Of course they can! Medicines optimisation can become a routine feature of care pathways. Undoubtedly! Smoking cessation services should become an element of our national contract. Makes perfect sense. MURs should be redesigned to form full clinical reviews that support ongoing monitoring and follow-up of patients. Radical! There should be closer working between community pharmacists and GPs. Blimey – why didn’t I think of that? And the icing on the cake – NHS England should commit to a minor ailments service across England by April 2018. Sweet!

This is what we and our representatives have been saying for years. Let me repeat that: FOR YEARS! The report says national action through the community pharmacy contract may be necessary, as well as support from NHS England on integrating pharmacies into Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plans and locally commissioned services.

Here’s where I start to worry. Locally commissioned services should involve new money, but I suspect that NHS England will want any national services to come out of our global sum without any significant additional remuneration. In the current climate, we have to ask whether that would be acceptable. I think the answer would have to be a hard-nosed “No”. 

Withering is the pen name of a practising independent community pharmacist. Withering’s views are not necessarily those of ICP.




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