The highly anticipated publication today of the long-term plan of the NHS has revealed health bosses are keen to support the development of community pharmacy, including reforming the sector’s reimbursement and wider supply arrangements.
The plan sets out how the health service will transform the way people are treated through the use of technology, genomics and artificial intelligence, with a strong focus on cancer, heart attacks, stroke and disease prevention.
Over the course of 120 pages, it also details how the increase in funding for the NHS, announced by the government last year to coincide with the NHS’s 70th birthday, will be spent. The NHS budget will increase from £115 billion to £135 billion by 2024.
The plan outlines a desire to grow the medical workforce, marked by an increase in medical school places from 6,000 to 7,500 a year, as well as increasing the number of doctors working in general practice, a position that is arguably in stark contrast to the government’s stance on community pharmacy given the crippling funding cuts that have jeopardised many pharmacies.
Yet what caught the eye in the plan as far as community pharmacy is concerned was recognition of its role in the NHS and a determination to explore “further efficiencies” through changes to its reimbursement.
The plan, published by Theresa May and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens (pictured), 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.”