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We should follow Scotland, not throw money at general practice


We should follow Scotland, not throw money at general practice

Jeremy Meader warns the £250 million winter funding package will fail to give patients in England access to services they need and urged ministers to follow Scotland’s Pharmacy First model…

We need a fundamental rethink about how healthcare is provided. Scotland’s Pharmacy First approach should be the template for England. The Covid pandemic has been a game-changer.

Whilst access to GP surgeries was restricted, pharmacies were open and we provided our communities with the professional healthcare support and advice they needed. And we continue to do so.

It is clear that community pharmacy is the third pillar in our national healthcare system but it needs investment from the government. Why is it GPs get £250 million and community pharmacy not a single penny when the English health secretary talks about community pharmacy undertaking a bigger role in providing minor ailments treatment? If you value the service provided then invest in it which benefits patients and takes the strain off GP surgeries.

The GP Winter Access Fund may see more CPCS referrals and that is welcome, but where is the vision for proper integrated healthcare with all parts of the NHS working together in the interests of patients? We cannot achieve integrated care without investing more in community pharmacy. 

And we cannot see perverse incentives which attract pharmacists to work in GP surgeries rather than community pharmacy as that is simply a zero sum game: it does not improve patient outcomes and simply means we compete for scarce resources rather plan for the future.

We should provide a career path which encompasses hospital, community and GP surgery experience - that requires a vision for professional development which is sadly lacking. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a strategy but a short-term response which will achieve nothing.

Jeremy Meader is the managing director of Numark.

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