English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley has urged the government to explain what “further efficiencies” achieved through a “reform of reimbursement” as set out in its NHS long-term plan means as far as community pharmacy is concerned.
The plan, published yesterday, outlined how primary, community and mental healthcare will be transformed and how changes in the way people are treated will help prevent cancer, heart attacks and stroke.
It laid out proposals to grow the medical workforce and the number of doctors working in general practice and somewhat cryptically pledged “to make greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients while also exploring further efficiencies through reform of reimbursement and wider supply arrangements.”
The plan said: “Pharmacists have an essential role to play in delivering the long-term plan. In hospitals, clinical pharmacists have for many years worked closely with other clinicians, seeing patients, taking part in ward rounds, and monitoring and reviewing treatment with medicines.
“In primary care, clinical pharmacists are now a key part of the general practice team in primary care networks, working alongside GPs and nurses, seeing patients and using their expertise to get the best health outcomes for people from medicines.
“The funding for the new primary care networks will be used to substantially expand the number of clinical pharmacists.
“In community pharmacy, we will work with government to make greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients, while also exploring further efficiencies through reform of reimbursement and wider supply arrangements.”
Gidley (pictured) said: “The plan acknowledges making ‘greater use of community pharmacists’ skills and opportunities to engage patients.’ It is great to see a move towards a more clinically-focused approach for community pharmacists. This will require investment.
“Therefore, greater clarification is needed on what ‘further efficiencies and reimbursement reform’ may mean for the future of the sector.
“Furthermore, these ambitious plans need to be underpinned with a comprehensive strategic approach to educating and training the workforce for the future, especially by investment in foundation training and professional development for pharmacists.
“The need for future planning to support an ageing population and healthcare professionals supporting and treating people with several long-term conditions and complex care needs is essential.”
The plan outlines NHS England’s determination to work with community pharmacists to increase opportunities for the public to take health checks and tests for high blood pressure and other high-risk conditions.
It also said NHS 111 calls will be referred to community pharmacies to support urgent care and promote self-care from this year.
Gidley, however, was concerned local health leaders had too often failed to involve pharmacy in their plans and warned that needed to change if patients were to get the most from their medicines.
“We are pleased to see the increased £4.5 billion investment in primary and community care and the recognition the important role pharmacists play in primary care networks,” she said.
“As these new structures evolve, it will be vital for local health leaders to engage with patients and all the health professions to design and implement services across their localities.
“To date, local health leaders have not actively and routinely involved the pharmacy profession and this needs to change if patients are to get the best use from their medicines.
“With £18.2 billion spent on medicines in 2017-18 and more people living with complex and multiple conditions, integrated care systems must now consider how all pharmacists, including those in hospitals, can play a key role in helping patients receive the most benefit from medicines.”