Population health should be reflected in the community pharmacy contract, All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) chair Sir Kevin Barron has suggested.
In an exclusive interview with The Pharmacist, Sir Kevin said that, even though population health was written into legislation, it was never enacted by the NHS.
He continued: ‘[Population health] should be reflected and measured in the contract so they [pharmacists] get paid for keeping people away from ill health and aren’t a drain on the NHS.
‘I don’t think we’ve done enough at all in looking at how community pharmacies interact with the need of populations, not just the needs of individuals.
‘We should really be looking at where pharmacy’s activity and the potential problems, such as health and deprivation figures, are and plan health a lot better than we do.’
Responding to his comments, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson (DHSC) told The Pharmacist: ‘Health promotion, supporting self-care and signposting other support are already essential services under the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPFC).
‘Pharmacies are also one of many providers that local authorities may choose to commission public health services from.’
Sir Kevin argued that 30 years ago, the income from prescriptions for a pharmacist represented around 50% of its income, rising to over 90% today.
He added: ‘There is a big reliance on prescriptions and it’s well evidenced on occasions that they are given to people and not used.
‘Why is anybody being prescribed a medicine they aren’t using? Is it in the pharmacist’s interest to change the system at the moment if over 90% of income comes from giving out prescription medicines, even if some aren’t used?’
‘We must change that and I think the CPCF should be looking at a service where they [pharmacies] can actually provide help and advice, which may not be pharmaceutical products, for people with long-term conditions.’
Sir Kevin said that pharmacists are the doorsteps of the NHS, as they are in communities and understand their health needs better than anyone else.
He added: ‘They are the ones that see 1.2 million people daily. It seems to me that pharmacists and their ability to do more in terms of providing more services to people is something that should be built upon.
‘I have no doubt at all that there are a number of areas in the primary care sector that can help keep the pressure off the NHS. Pharmacy could play a major role in that.