The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) presented plans for pharmacists to play a greater clinical role in healthcare delivery at this week’s meeting of the Pharmacy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

Claire Ward, the PDA’s director of public services, presented the PDA’s report proposing ‘a more integrated healthcare system’ which would see pharmacies operating as high-street healthcare clinics.

Also presenting at the event on Tuesday was the chief executive of the CCA, Malcolm Harris, who called for ‘the right policy support and investment’ to empower community pharmacies to do more to help the NHS and alleviate pressures from primary care.

The event was chaired by NHS cancer pharmacist and MP for Coventry North West Taiwo Owatemi.

The APPG tweeted that ‘pharmacy can do so much more, but a plan is needed with urgent support from Government to address existing pressures’.

Ms Ward told The Pharmacist that there was ‘clearly some synergy and support in the presentation from ourselves and the CCA in terms of using community pharmacy for extended levels of services’.

The PDA’s plans outline how community pharmacists can play a more integrated role within primary care services, and include a vision for community pharmacies as high-street healthcare clinics, with two pharmacists per pharmacy to oversee both dispensing and clinical services where possible.

They also call for a greater alignment of contractual frameworks, as well as improved formal and informal working arrangements between general practice and community pharmacy, with better use being made of pharmacists across the whole healthcare system.

For instance, the PDA suggested reimagining healthcare pathways so that pharmacists would become the first port of call and that pharmacists could manage caseloads of patients within a clinic.

Such changes could enable pharmacists to provide effective and more efficient care to patients, and could be instituted ‘with the right political will and support from across the sector’, the PDA said.

Ms Ward said that this week’s meeting was ‘one of the best discussions’ she had had with the APPG, adding that there was lots of interest in the idea of using pharmacies as high street health clinics and that the presentations were ‘well received by parliamentarians from both houses’.

Malcolm Harrison, CCA chief executive, said that the meeting ‘facilitated an important discussion on how pharmacy teams could be empowered to do more to help the NHS’.

He said that with the right policy support and investment, community pharmacy could do more to alleviate primary care pressures, but added that ‘the current funding and workforce pressures have pushed the sector to the brink.’

The workload expected of pharmacies has grown by more than a third, while funding had been cut in real-terms by 25%, he added.

‘The Government urgently needs to invest in community pharmacy to successfully deliver a fully-funded Pharmacy First model that works for pharmacies, patients, and the NHS,’ he said.

‘It was great to discuss the opportunities and challenges for the sector with so many like-minded Parliamentarians at the event.’