NHS England (NHSE) has confirmed that community pharmacists will be a part of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) across England as it pushes ahead with its wide-ranging healthcare reforms.
The biggest changes to general practice in 15 years, complete with a new five-year contract for the profession, saw a strong focus placed on the development of local healthcare systems, notably PCNs.
Those will include a range of health professionals collaborating with general practices to alleviate the pressure on GPs, a programme NHSE pledged to fund by an extra £4.5 billion by 2023 as part of the NHS long-term plan.
One interpretation has been that PCNs will include what NHSE provocatively describes as ‘clinical pharmacists,’ or pharmacists based in GP surgeries, and that has led to concern that community pharmacies, especially independent pharmacies, are not part of the plans.
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes told ICP earlier this year that the long-term plan and formation of PCNs were “a big opportunity for community pharmacy” and NHSE appeared to confirm that in an official document.
“Primary care networks will be expected to have a wide-reaching membership, led by groups of general practices,” it said.
“This should include providers from the local system such as community pharmacy, optometrists, dental providers, social care providers, voluntary sector organisations, community services providers or local government.”
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