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Sigma sponsors study into new vision for community pharmacy

Sigma Pharmaceuticals plc is funding a three-year PhD scholarship aimed at developing a coherent and transformative vision for English community pharmacy in 2025.

Under the scholarship, Evina Paloumpi, a pharmacist herself, will gather opinions from all relevant stakeholders, including patients, pharmacists, other health professionals, businesses and commissioners. There will also be a review of recent developments in community pharmacy policy and an examination of case studies of existing innovative pharmacy businesses.

The scholarship is being supervised at the University of Bath by Dr Matthew Jones (Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice) from the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Dr Piotr Ozieranski, an expert in health policy and lecturer in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences and Professor Margaret Watson (Professor of Health Services Research).

Paloumpi explained that her research aims to facilitate responses to current challenges and identify some realistic steps for the future.  “It has long been recognised that community pharmacy is a highly valued but underutilised resource. At times of financial austerity, uncertainty and growing population demands, pharmacy has a lot to offer. NHS plans for integrating care are continuously developing and community pharmacy must ensure it is actively involved,” she said.

Dr Barat Shah, Sigma's CEO, commented: “Our involvement in this timely project resonates well with the general feelings and anxiety experienced throughout the pharmaceutical industry. It is my personal ambition to see the culmination of three years of solid, evidence-based research that will present an irrefutable case to our policy makers who seem at liberty to take decisions without consultation with the professionals. I am also hopeful that the findings will bolster the independent pharmacy sector and add a measure of security for the future”.

Dr Jones added: “Through this work, we aim to identify areas where Government policy and stakeholder views align with existing examples of innovative and successful community pharmacy businesses. For example, such areas of consensus might include the provision of minor ailments services, management of chronic conditions, or a diversification of business models. These can then be used to develop a vision for the future of the sector."

The findings of the project will be made public when the research has been completed in 2020.

Evina Paloumpi is interested to hear views about the project. She can be reached on E.Paloumpi@bath.ac.uk.

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